Israeli Security Forces Arrest Palestinian Ex-militant Zakariya Zubeidi

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FILE PHOTO: Zakariya Zubeidi in the FReedom Theatre in Jenin, 2011.
FILE PHOTO: Zakariya Zubeidi in the FReedom Theatre in Jenin, 2011. Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Israeli security forces arrested on Wednesday morning the former leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Zakayria Zubeidi, on suspicion of "grave and current terrorist activity."

Also arrested in Jenin was East Jerusalem resident Tarek Barghout. The two have been transferred for interrogation by the Shin Bet security service, and their arrest has since been extended by eight days. 

The arrest surprised the residents of Jenin, who noted that in recent years Zubeidi had been focusing on political activity as a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and held a position in the Palestinian Prisoners' Society.

>> Read more: Israeli pressure on Palestinians could spark violent escalation, Palestinian Authority and Hamas warn

Sources told Haaretz that Zubeidi served in a position equivalent to that of chief officer, and had been aiding prisoners and their familing. Jawad Boulos, head of the legal department, said that he didn't recieved any information on the two's arrest or the allegations against them.

Tarek Barghout, who also works in the Paletsinian Prisoners' Association, is a lawyer who had represented numerous Palestinian political prisoners, including the 17-year-old teen who killed Ari Fuld in a mall the West Bank in Septmeber, a 13-year-old teen suspected of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, and a man involved in the killing of Eliav Gelman in a West Bank intersection, who was later acquitted of murder in Israeli Military Court.

In the past, Barghout was arrested for incitement to violence on social media. 

For years, Zubeidi was considered one of the most wanted militants in the West Bank. During clashes with the Israel Defense Forces, he lost his brother and mother, and his home in Jenin was demolished.

In an interview conducted with him a few years ago, he said: "They are killing us with Apaches. Do we have a weapon to take down an Apache? Do we have anti-tank weapons? They have F16s and we have M16s and Kalashnikovs. We are defending ourselves." In the interview, Zubeidi also said, "I don't live in fear. If you enter this road with fear, you don't enter in the first place."

In an interview with Channel 10 in July 2008, his ex-girlfriend Tali Fahima called him "the Shin Bet's whore." Fahima was convicted of aiding a terrorist organization and served two years in Israeli prison. She added, "I can't even look at him," saying that he is in negotiations with the Shin Bet for his own personal interests.

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