Gunmen attack opposition Palestinian candidate’s home after election delay
Unknown assailants attacked the home of a Palestinian election candidate on Saturday evening, after he called on the European Union to withdraw funding from the Palestinian Authority, as protests continued following President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement that long-overdue Palestinian elections would be postponed.
Sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that armed attackers fired over 20 bullets on the home of Nizar Banat, an activist and parliamentary candidate for the Freedom and Dignity List, in the town of Dora near Hebron in the southern West Bank.
They also lobbed tear gas grenades at his house, according to the sources.
On Thursday, Banat and Amjad Shehab, another candidate from the Freedom and Dignity List, wrote a letter to the European Union requesting that they immediately stop financing the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of the PA’s postponement of Palestinian elections.
“The European Union is helping support an illegitimate and corrupt authority which does not represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people,” the letter said.
Banat and Shehab added that they were willing to take the EU to the European Court of Justice if they continued to fund the Palestinian Authority after the postponement of elections.
Read more: Abbas's Palestinian election theatre
Late on Thursday evening, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that presidential and legislative elections, due to be held in May and July respectively, would be delayed.
He said that this was because Israel had not guaranteed that Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem would be able to vote.
These would have been the first Palestinian elections to be held after 15 years of political conflict and division between Abbas’s Fatah movement, the dominant Palestinian faction in the West Bank and Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Abbas’s announcement caused widespread anger among Palestinians and drew condemnation from the EU.
In a video posted to his Facebook page, he said that Palestinian security forces had facilitated the attack on his home.
“A group of thugs accompanied by security forces fired a lot of bullets, broke the door of [my] house, and threw sound bombs,” he said.
“My wife, who hasn’t recovered yet from coronavirus, and my baby daughter were in the house when the attack happened.”
Banat also said that he had been summoned by the Palestinian attorney-general for interrogation in Ramallah on Sunday after writing the letter to the European Union.
On Saturday evening, left wing Palestinian groups associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organised protests in Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah against the postponement of the elections.
The PFLP said that Abbas had taken an “unjust decision, which was a blow to the 95% of Palestinians who wanted elections”.