Al-Aqsa Brigades commander, the captive Fatah leader Zakaria al-Zubaidi, appears again after he successfully escaped from maximum-security Gilboa prison with five other prisoners. This break is the first of its kind in the history of the Israeli occupation.
Before his arrest in 2019, Al-Zubaidi was among the most powerful figures in Jenin and was a prominent advocate for the continuation of the uprising. He is considered one of the most notable leaders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs of the Fatah movement. He is a former member of the movement’s revolutionary council, elected on December 4, 2016.
Al-Zubaidi returned to armed resistance in late 2001, after the martyrdom of a friend. Some months later his mother was martyred just before the invasion of Jenin on March 3, 2002. The occupation forces targeted her while she was standing at the window of a house. His brother Taha was martyred later as well, and their house was demolished 3 times.
The occupation forces accused Al-Zubaidi of being responsible for several operations, including a bombing attack in Tel Aviv that killed an Israeli settler and injured 30 others in June 2004.
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Al-Zubaidi survived four assassination attempts by the Israeli occupation forces and sustained multiple injuries in the process.
In one of the attempts in 2004, the occupation forces assassinated five Palestinians, including a 14-year-old child, after targeting a vehicle suspected of carrying Al-Zubaidi.
In another attempt, the occupation forces stormed the Jenin refugee camp, martyring 9 Palestinians, as Al-Zubaidi escaped. In 2006, the occupation forces tried to arrest Al-Zubaidi and ailed after being caught in a firefight.
On July 15, 2007, “Israel” announced the release of an amnesty for Al-Aqsa Brigades militants, including Al-Zubaidi. In an interview on April 4, 2008, Al-Zubaidi said that general amnesty did not include him, so he continued to reside inside one of the security services headquarters in Jenin.
On December 29, 2011, the occupation officially canceled the amnesty for Al-Zubaidi, despite his assertion that he had not violated any of its conditions. Palestinian security officials then asked him to surrender himself for fear of an Israeli arrest.
On January 27, 2019, occupation forces arrested Al-Zubaidi and lawyer Tariq Barghouth after storming the city of Ramallah, claiming that they were involved in new incitement activities. The occupation court sentenced Al-Zubaidi to life in prison.
Former Shin Bet officer Yitzhak Ilan described him as “A street cat… We have always tried to catch him, but he escaped our grasp. Now he has been re-arrested for his involvement in terrorist activities.”
In an interview with Maariv about Al-Zubaidi, Ilan divulged that “Israel sought to lay its hands on Al-Zubaidi when he was wanted by its security services, but it did not succeed.” He added, “He was arrested in the recent days because of his involvement in planning to carry out armed attacks against Israel.”
It is noteworthy that Al-Zubaidi was born in the Jenin refugee camp in 1976. He was an orphan with seven siblings after his father died of an illness. He speaks Hebrew fluently.