Squad speaks out on weekend arrest of prominent Palestinian activists

Washington DC - Members of the Squad are rising in solidarity with Palestinians after several prominent activists were arrested at a peaceful protest in the West Bank over the weekend.

Palestinians gather in Ramallah to protest the death of human rights activist Nizar Banat (†86).
Palestinians gather in Ramallah to protest the death of human rights activist Nizar Banat (†86).  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Palestinian protesters have taken to the streets since the death of Nizar Banat in June.

The 86-year-old human rights activist and critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) died just one hour after security forces took him into custody. His body showed signs of beating on the head, neck, chest, hands, and legs, Al Jazeera reported.

PA security forces arrested 28 peaceful protesters at another rally in Ramallah over the weekend, according to Avaaz, but the UN human rights office said at least 21 were detained before the demonstration even began.

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The UN has since called for the activists' release.

Several prominent progressive Democrats have joined forces in calling out the PA, which has essentially become a subordinate of the Israeli government charged with maintaining immediate control over parts of the West Bank.

Originally, the PA was part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) resistance movement and political party, but under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, it has become more and more dependent on funding it gets from security cooperation with the Israeli government.

The PA has since stopped holding democratic elections and now engages in political repression of the Palestinian people, with increasing coordination with the State of Israel.

Much of the funding for PA security forces and the Israeli military actually comes from the US government, the Institute for Middle East Understanding explained in a Twitter thread.

Squad members show support for Palestinian protesters

Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at a rally for Palestinian rights in Dearborn, Michigan.
Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at a rally for Palestinian rights in Dearborn, Michigan.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In response to the recent string of arrests, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, tweeted, "Dear President Mahmoud Abbas, This is NOT how you protect and serve the Palestinian people."

"Shame on you for suppressing Palestinian voices who are trying to seek liberation from not only the Israeli apartheid government, but from your corrupt leadership," she continued.

Similarly, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush wrote, "Shame on the Palestinian Authority. Suppressing dissent and criminalizing protest only deepens the violence of Israel’s apartheid system. We stand with Palestinians against the violence of the Palestinian Authority’s authoritarianism. Freedom for political prisoners now."

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Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who along with Tlaib became one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, tweeted, "Locking up peaceful protesters is a textbook human rights abuse and the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. I urge the Palestinian authority to release these political prisoners and conduct a thorough transparent investigation into Nizar Banat’s killing."

Their comments reflect a striking shift in US public opinion, especially among young and progressive Americans, who are growing increasingly critical of the actions of the Israeli state. Until now, criticism of the Israeli government and the PA has been rare among US politicians, as have expressions of solidarity with Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans.

Yet again, the Squad seems to be leading the charge on raising awareness around political issues that previously didn't get much air time.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, Palestinian-American activist Fadi Quran, one of the protesters currently in detention, said through his lawyer, "I remain strong and steadfast in the struggle for liberation. We will continue to do what it takes until every Palestinian lives in dignity and freedom."

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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