Hebron, occupied West Bank – Eyad Banat, 35, was live on TikTok when dozens of Israeli soldiers raided his home and violently beat him and other family members in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.
The video, which was shared widely on social media, showed soldiers stepping on Banat, kicking him and pushing their rifles into his body with the sound of his children screaming “baba” (Dad) in the background.
“They grabbed my father and pushed him to the ground. They kept beating him on and on and then handcuffed him and took him,” Banat’s 10-year-old daughter, Sandy, told Al Jazeera from their home.
“I wasn’t shouting because I was afraid of the soldiers. I’m not afraid of the soldiers. I was worried about my father. The soldier kept pushing the weapon into my father’s neck. He took the crowbar and beat him on the head and on his hands with it,” she continued.
The raid took place in the very early hours of Tuesday morning. Israeli forces arrested five members of the Banat family, including Eyad, along with nine labourers from Gaza who had been staying with the family after getting stuck in the occupied West Bank.
The nine labourers, as well as 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 assaulted in the same way as his cousin.
“You all know what happened to the martyr Nizar Banat. I saw Nizar’s face when they were beating me. Even though it was occupation soldiers doing it, it’s still the same method [that the PA used],” the father-of-six said.
“What appeared in the video is nothing compared to what happened away from the camera,” he told Al Jazeera from his home.
‘You shouldn’t be alive!’
Banat had appeared live on TikTok at about 1:30am (23:30 GMT) as he does every night 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 a relentless aerial and ground bombardment by Israeli military forces which has killed more than 11,500 people, the majority of them women and children. The military assault was launched on October 7 after fighters from Hamas, the Gaza-based armed resistance movement, staged an unprecedented attack inside Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 captive.
Residents of the Strip are now facing a dire humanitarian crisis with severe water, fuel and electricity shortages as well as the spread of disease.
“A friend of mine and I go live on TikTok, along with a journalist friend of ours in Gaza,” said Banat. “We provide assistance to children in the yard of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, such as tents and blankets. It is so unfortunate that 22 [Arab] countries are not able to bring one bottle of water into Gaza. People are receiving shipments of expired biscuits and white burial sheets!”
“When I was live, I realised the army was surrounding my house. I told the guys to stay live,” he said.
“The army raided all our homes and blew up three front doors. They assaulted every member of the Banat family – my cousins, my uncle and his sons, my brother. They assaulted us with their hands, legs, weapons and crowbars,” continued Banat.
“They were beating my uncle, who has heart problems. The soldier was telling him, ‘you shouldn’t be alive’,” he said.
The Banat family men were then handcuffed and taken for interrogation outside their homes, during which the beatings continued. Two hours later, soldiers left a number of them, including Banat, on different roads away from their homes. They were then taken by medics to the Princess Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron for treatment.
The price ‘honourable people must pay’
Since October 7, the Israeli army has increased raids on Palestinian neighbourhoods, cities and villages across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. At least 2,570 people have been arrested, according to prisoner rights groups.
Commenting on being assaulted in front of his children, Banat said they are “used to it” due to the frequent raids by the Israeli army and PA security services.
“We are an occupied country. This the price that honourable people have to pay,” he said, adding he was “just glad that I was released”.
“Gaza is our dignity and our pride. It is fighting all the Western countries – on behalf of 22 Arab countries,” he continued.
“What happened to us is nothing compared to what is happening to the Gaza Strip. May God keep us strong to be able to stand with our people in Gaza – because those are our family, our children, our friends. We are the sons of one nation.”