Live on TikTok: Palestinian activist’s cousin beaten by Israeli soldiers

Hebron, occupied West Bank – Eyad Banat, 35, was broadcasting live on TikTok when dozens of Israeli soldiers broke into his home and brutally beat him and other family members in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.

The footage, which was widely shared on social media, shows soldiers stamping on Banat, kicking him and sticking rifles into his body, while his children can be heard shouting “baba” (daddy) in the background.

“They grabbed my father and threw him to the ground. They beat him nonstop, then they handcuffed him and took him away,” Banat’s 10-year-old daughter, Sandy, told Al Jazeera from their home.

“I didn’t scream because I was afraid of the soldiers. I’m not afraid of soldiers. I was worried about my father. The soldier pressed the gun into my father’s neck. He took a crowbar and hit him on the head and hands with it,” she continued.

The attack took place on Tuesday morning. Israeli forces arrested five members of the Banat family, including Eyad, along with nine workers from Gaza who were staying with the family after being stranded in the occupied West Bank.

Nine workers and three members of the Banat family remain in Israeli custody.

Eyad Banat, one of those released, is the cousin of the late political activist Nizar Banat, who was severely beaten and killed by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces on June 24, 2021.

Recalling the raid on his home, Banat said he was attacked in the same way as his cousin.

“You all know what happened to the martyr Nizar Banat. I saw Nizar’s face when they beat me. Even though it was done by occupation soldiers, it was still the same method [that the PA used]– said the father of six children.

“What appeared on the video is nothing compared to what happened off camera,” he told Al Jazeera from his home.

– You shouldn’t be alive!

Banat appeared live on TikTok around 1:30 a.m. (23:30 GMT), as he does every evening as part of an online campaign to raise financial aid for children in the besieged Gaza Strip.

For 41 days, the enclave has been under ruthless air and ground bombardment by the Israeli armed forces, which has killed over 11,500 people, most of them women and children. The military attack began on October 7 after fighters from Hamas, an armed resistance movement based in Gaza, carried out an unprecedented attack in Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 200 prisoners.

Residents of the Strip are currently facing a grave humanitarian crisis caused by severe water, fuel and electricity shortages, as well as the spread of disease.

“Me and my friend are live on TikTok with our journalist friend in Gaza,” Banat said. “We provide assistance to children in the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, such as tents and blankets. Too bad it’s the 22nd [Arab] countries are unable to bring one bottle of water into Gaza. People are receiving shipments of expired cookies and white sheets!”

“When I was broadcasting live, I realized that the army was surrounding my house. I told the guys to stay alive,” he said.

“The army invaded all our houses and blew up three front doors. They attacked every member of the Banat family – my cousins, my uncle and his sons, my brother. They attacked us with their hands, feet, weapons and crowbars,” Banat continued.

“They beat my uncle, who has heart problems. The soldier told him: “You shouldn’t be alive,” he said.

The Banat men were then handcuffed and taken to their homes for interrogation, during which the beatings continued. Two hours later, soldiers left many of them, including Banat, on various roads away from their homes. Doctors then took them to the Princess Alia Government Hospital in Hebron for treatment.

Eyad Banat is happy to be home with his children [Mosab Shawer/Al Jazeera]

The price that honorable people must pay

Since October 7, the Israeli army has intensified airstrikes on Palestinian neighborhoods, towns and villages in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to prisoners’ rights groups, at least 2,570 people have been arrested.

Commenting on the attack in front of his children, Banat said they “got used to it” due to frequent raids by the Israeli army and PA security services.

“We are an occupied country. This is the price that honorable people have to pay,” he said, adding that he was “just glad that I was released.”

“Gaza is our dignity and our pride. He is fighting against all Western countries – on behalf of 22 Arab countries,” he continued.

“What happened to us is nothing compared to what is happening in the Gaza Strip. May God keep us strong so that we can stand alongside our people in Gaza – because they are our family, our children and our friends. We are sons of one nation.”


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