Who was Nizar Banat, the outspoken Palestinian activist who died in custody?

He had been planning on running in parliamentary elections set to take place in May

Nizar Banat, an outspoken of the Palestinian Authority, speaks to journalists at the family house, in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 4, 2021. Banat who had intended to run in parliamentary elections before they were cancelled earlier this year died during his arrest by Palestinian Authority forces early Thursday, June 24, 2021, officials said. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

A well-known critic of the Palestinian Authority died in police custody in Hebron, sparking angry responses from leaders around the West Bank.

Nizar Banat, a carpenter by trade, had been a critic of the Palestinian Authority for years, focusing on calling out its corruption.

For months prior to his death, he had posted videos to Facebook and other social media websites criticising Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as other senior leaders and Fatah officials.

Just this week, Mr Banat had taken to Facebook to criticise the Palestinian Authority for cancelling a vaccine exchange with Israel.

"We are deeply disturbed by the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat and the information that has been reported regarding the circumstances of his death," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday. "We offer our sincere condolences to his family and community."

He had also been planning on running in the parliamentary elections set to take place on May 22.

Mr Banat was a candidate on the Freedom and Dignity electoral list, a party that he created to counter the Palestinian Authority.

In response to Mr Abbas’ decision to call off the parliamentary elections, and presidential elections scheduled for July 31, Mr Banat and his party published a statement asking the EU and human rights court to cut off financial aid to the authority.

Just two months prior to his arrest and subsequent death, Mr Banat had been shot by an unidentified assailant.

The human rights activist had been arrested a number of times.

In 2017, he was arrested under the Palestinian Authorities cybercrime law designed to put restrictions on freedom of expression on the internet and social media.

He was also arrested in 2020 for posting a video criticising leaders of the Palestinian Authority.

"We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure full accountability in this case," Mr Price added.

"We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations."