| 23 July 2021, Friday |

Palestinian labor minister to quit amid anti-government protests

The left-wing Palestinian People’s Party decision to withdraw from the Fatah-led PA government, led Nasri Abu Jaish, the labour minister and the People’s Party representative to consider resigning from the government.  Central committee member of the party, Issam Abu Bakr said that all this initiatives are a result of the government’s lack of respect for laws and public freedoms. The announcement followed three days of heavy protests against the Palestinian Authority (PA), triggered by the violent arrest and death in custody of an activist.

Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old known for social media videos denouncing alleged corruption within the PA, died on Thursday shortly after security forces had stormed his house and violently arrested him, his family said.

On Sunday evening, protesters defied a heavy deployment of security forces, holding up photographs of the activist as they marched in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Banat’s home town of Hebron.

In Ramallah, the seat of the PA, protesters demanded those responsible for Banat’s death be held accountable, while several supporters of the Fatah Party of Abbas gathered to shout slogans backing the president.

The PA has announced the opening of an investigation into Banat’s death, but it has done little to appease anger on the streets.

According to the autopsy, injuries indicated that Banat had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death, pathologist Samir Abu Zarzour said.

On Saturday, protesters in Ramallah hurled rocks at Palestinian security forces and called for 86-year-old Abbas to quit. The PA’s forces opened fire with a barrage of tear gas canisters, with reports of several injured.