- Title: Palestinian security forces under fire in the West Bank for handling of protests
- Date: 30th June 2021
- Summary: RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (FILE - JUNE 27, 2021) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS CHANTING IN (Arabic): 'LEAVE, LEAVE' CALLING ON PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS TO RESIGN PROTESTERS CHANTING IN (Arabic): 'SHAME, SHAME THEY ASSASSINATED HIM IN FRONT OF HIS HOME' PROTESTERS HOLDING POSTERS FOR NIZAR BANAT
- Embargoed: 14th July 2021 15:29
- Keywords: Abbas Palestinians West Bank critic security forces
- Location: RAMALLAH, BETHLEHEM AND NEAR HEBRON, WEST BANK
- City: RAMALLAH, BETHLEHEM AND NEAR HEBRON, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA005EJLF5TZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pressure is mounting on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over his security forces' handling of protesters demanding his resignation since one of his biggest critics died in custody.
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem said on Tuesday it was "deeply disturbed" by reports that protesters had been intimidated and beaten by plain-clothes officers and the United Nations condemned what it called "totally unacceptable" attacks.
The security forces have denied deploying officers in civilian clothing against protesters.
But the criticism of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by such important international backers extends the already long list of problems facing Abbas, 85, after 16 years in power.
The family of Nizar Banat, a prominent critic of the PA who died in detention on June 24, said security forces broke into his house in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and hit him repeatedly with a metal rod before arresting him.
A Palestinian rights group said after conducting an autopsy that Banat had suffered blows to his head.
The PA has declined direct comment on the circumstances of Banat's death but, offering his condolences, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday the judiciary would "ensure application of the law against all those found guilty".
The death has led to days of protests in the West Bank and clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
One journalist, Shatha Hamad, fighting tears, said she had been attacked by the security forces whilst reporting on the protest and injured".
"There is no protection for the journalists in the Palestinian streets," she said at a news conference in Ramallah. Another said members of Fatah had created a 'list of shame' to which she had been added just because she was reporting on the demonstrations.
A spokesperson for the US embassy has said they are "deeply disturbed by reports that non-uniformed members of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) harassed and used force against protesters and journalists over the weekend.".
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory said one of its rights monitors covering protests in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday was among dozens of people who had been attacked in a "totally unacceptable way".
A spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces denied the reports saying they were "not true".
The PA says it has investigated Banat's death, and Shtayyeh has urged Palestinians not to politicise the case.
Abbas's popularity has plummeted since he was elected in 2005, according to opinion polls. He has ruled by decree for over a decade and the PA faces widespread allegations of corruption, which it denies.
Criticism of the security forces' methods has mounted since Banat's death and Abbas's Fatah party has accused Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and other rival political factions of being behind them.
(Production: Mohammad Abu Ganeyeh, Yosri Al-Jamal, Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh, Suheir Sheikh)
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