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Palestinians demonstrate anger for death of President Abbas' critic

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Palestinians demonstrate anger for death of President Abbas critic
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Ramallah: The death of a social media activist and the staunch critic of President Mahmoud Abbas in the custody of the Palestinian Authority's forces caused a widespread protest as several hundreds of people demonstrated their anger in the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem.

Nizar Banat succumbed to treatment he had met by the authority's forces during his arrest in Hebron on 24 June. The protest continued for the fifth day on Monday.

Reports suggested that the demonstrators who took out to streets demanding the removal of Abbas, who has been in power for over 16 years, had met with brutal force from both Palestinian security forces and men in plain clothes loyal to Abbas's Fatah party.

The Palestinian journalists' union is reported to have claimed that reporters were prevented from documenting the demonstration and how the forces treated them. There are hardly any reports in terms of people who have been arrested and wounded so far for demonstrating against the Authority.

Protesting people are said to have called for a general strike across the West Bank on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old Banat was a longstanding critic of the authority, who questioned its coordination with Israel in security matters. He went to public accusing Abbas and his inner circle of rampant corruption and growing authoritarianism. Banat was also preparing to contest against Abbas' Authority in long-delayed Palestinian elections, which were supposed to be held in May.

The family of Banat claimed that he was brutally beaten when the authority's forces came to arrest him. Several Palestinian and international human rights groups rejected the Authority's announcement of an investigation into the death of Banat. They instead wanted a probe by an independent agency.

Western countries that provide the Authority with financial and other aid support Abbas, despite his unpopularity among Palestinians, for his strong relationship with Israel which sees Abbas' puppet Authority as better option than Hamas.

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