US envoy to UN slams Palestinian Authority after Banat death
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield deplored the Palestinian Authority for suppressing freedom of expression in the West Bank and Hamas for withholding the corpses of Israeli soldiers and civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Speaking at a UN Security Council's monthly session on Wednesday, Thomas-Greenfield said the Biden administration will "continue to fiercely advocate" for the bodies of Israeli citizens held by Hamas.
"For the last seven years, the Goldins have advocated endlessly for his return. When I met with her, I promised her I would do everything possible to support her efforts to have her son returned. No parent - no one - should have to endure such a wretched experience," the US envoy said.
"The United States will continue to fiercely advocate for the return of Israeli soldiers killed in action in Gaza, as well as the return of Israeli civilians held captive there. And we will continue to push for decency, for humanity, for equality, and for peace for all."
She added that the PA "is acting to restrict Palestinian freedom of expression and harass civil society activists and organisations. That is unacceptable".
She also expressed her shock at the death of activist Nizar Banat in PA custody last month.
"The circumstances of his death must be fully investigated and those responsible held accountable," she said.
Banat, 44, a resident of Dura, near Hebron, was known for his caustically sarcastic videos tearing into the PA leadership. Banat was reportedly beaten after the security forces raided his home and apprehended him.
In a series of posts and live videos on Facebook, Banat had criticised the authority's close security coordination with Israel - seen by many Palestinians as a betrayal - and corruption. He also lashed out at President Mahmoud Abbas in April for calling off what would have been the first Palestinian elections in 15 years. Banat was a candidate on an opposition slate.
His family said security PA forces stormed Banat's bedroom while he was sleeping and beat him, inflicting head wounds before removing him from his home. He died shortly afterward in custody.
His death has prompted weeks of protests. On 5 July, at least six activists were arrested by security forces when protesting outside the Palestinian Authority headquarters. Multiple witnesses said the police used pepper spray and beat the protesters with batons.