Nasrallah attacks PA over death of activist Nizar Banat

Banat, a vocal opponent of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, died during a raid on his home in Hebron by PA security forces, leading to protests against the PA throughout the West Bank.

 Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks through a screen during a religious ceremony marking Ashura (photo credit: AL-MANAR/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks through a screen during a religious ceremony marking Ashura
(photo credit: AL-MANAR/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah attacked the Palestinian Authority in a speech on Monday over the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, who was allegedly killed by PA security services earlier this year.

Banat, a vocal opponent of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, died during a raid on his home in Hebron by PA security forces. Protests against the PA broke out throughout the West Bank in the wake of his death.

With over 100,000 followers on Facebook, Banat often accused the PA of corruption and criticized Abbas's postponement of a long-delayed election in May. Banat had registered as a parliamentary candidate for that contest.

People attend the funeral of Palestinian critic Nizar Banat, who died after being arrested by Palestinians Authority's security forces, in Hebron (credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)People attend the funeral of Palestinian critic Nizar Banat, who died after being arrested by Palestinians Authority's security forces, in Hebron (credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)

"It is a moral duty to stand before the Palestinian martyr, the brave thinker Nizar Banat, who was assassinated by a force from the Palestinian Authority," said Nasrallah, adding that he "listened to [Banat's] recordings and was impressed by his pure thought about Palestine and the conflicts in the region, targeting the axis of resistance."

The Hezbollah leader demanded justice from the PA, saying that the cause of Banat's death "must be confronted with justice and truth."

14 security officers charged with beating Banat to death have been put on trial by a Palestinian military court. Banat's family has expressed outrage at the fact that no senior officials are being tried for the activist's death.

Concerning Lebanon's ongoing electricity crisis, Nasrallah stated on Sunday that the government should have held a special session and not ended it until a solution was found.

The Hezbollah leader stressed that a radical solution is needed for the energy crisis, adding that there are already serious offers of help from China, Russia, Iran, Germany and France, but that the Lebanese government is scared of angering the US.

Nasrallah referred to a "new Iranian offer" regarding electricity, calling on the Lebanese to respond to the offer and "ask for an exception from what you call your sweetheart and friend 'America'."

The Hezbollah leader implied that there was an intentional effort to make the electricity sector in Lebanon collapse in order to force it to privatize.

Concerning imports of Iranian diesel, Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah is still in the "first stage" of imports and intends to continue the imports throughout the month. The "second stage" of imports will include fuel for heating for families in Lebanon, Nasrallah announced, adding that Hezbollah would stop intervening in importing fuel if the Lebanese government took responsibility for the imports.

Nasrallah additionally confirmed during the speech on Sunday that Hezbollah wants the legislative elections in Lebanon to be held on time within the constitutional deadline.

Concerning the ongoing investigation of the Beirut Port blast, Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah wants answers and will not abandon the investigation. The Hezbollah leader claimed that the current judge on the case, Tarek Bitar, is using the case for political goals and does not want to reach the truth about the explosion.

Nasrallah questioned why Bitar only questioned certain ministers and not others.

Hezbollah security official Wafiq Safa reportedly threatened Bitar in September, saying that the movement would remove Bitar from his position by force if the judge displeases them.

"We have had enough of you. We will go to the end of the legal path, and if that does not work, we will remove you by force," said Safa to Bitar, according to Edmond Sassine, a journalist with the Lebanese LBCI news.

Hezbollah has been accused of being responsible for the improper storage of the ammonium nitrate which caused the explosion last year, as the terrorist movement largely controls Lebanon's ports.

Safa was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury in 2019 for exploiting Lebanon's ports and border crossings to smuggle contraband, including illegal drugs and weapons, into Beirut and facilitate travel on behalf of Hezbollah.

Over a year after an explosion in the Beirut port killed over 200 people and wounded thousands, the investigation is still ongoing without any conclusions reached nor any officials charged or sentenced.

Reuters contributed to this report.