Palestinian Activist Zubeidi Freed on Bail Before Trial for Shooting at Jenin Governor

Former commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades was indicted last week on suspicion of taking part in the shooting attack that killed Jenin Governor Kadura Musa.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Zakaria Zubeidi, Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades during the second intifada, was released last night on bail from the Palestinian Authority's Jericho prison after five months in custody. Zubeidi was indicted last week on suspicion of taking part in the shooting attack on Jenin Governor Kadura Musa.

On May 2, gunmen fired shots at Musa's home, and he died two hours later following a heart attack. The Jenin District Court ordered that Zubeidi post $7,000 in bail in the run-up to the trial next week.

The PA arrested a number of Fatah members in connection with Musa's death, which is being treated as an assassination. Two men from the Jenin refugee camp have been accused of firing into Musa's home and have not been released.

The other suspects have been released, some of them after reportedly suffering severe torture at the hands of the PA's Preventive Security Force.

Zubeidi has held two hunger strikes during his imprisonment, and more than 3,000 activists have signed a petition calling for his release.

Zubeidi told Haaretz last night that there were no grounds for his indictment. "Musa was not only a comrade in the struggle against the occupation, he was a family friend," Zubeidi said. "He was a fighter long before me."

Zubeidi added that late PLO leader Yasser Arafat had consulted him before appointing Musa as governor of Jenin. "It couldn't have been me that fired the shots," Zubeidi said, who added that he had been accused because the two main suspects later handed him their gun. "If I had known what the weapon had been used for, I would have never taken it."

According to Zubeidi, the Jenin court ordered his release after it was convinced the prosecution had no significant evidence against him.

Sources in the Jenin refugee camp say the shooting was linked to struggles within the Palestinian National Security Forces, since the main two suspects were part of that force. At the end of 2011, the forces' commander, Dib Al Ali, resigned, and his successor, Nidal Abu Dukhan, the former commander of military intelligence, began to purge Al Ali loyalists from the force.

Fatah sources say Al Ali is appreciated by the U.S. and Israeli security forces because he led the drive against Hamas activists after the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections.

Zubeidi, who as a child was part of the children's theater established by Arna Mer in Jenin, was later among the founders of the Freedom Theater with Juliano Mer-Khamis. In recent years he served as an official in the Palestinian prisoners ministry.

Zakaria Zubeidi, on bail before trial. Credit: Daniel Bar-On