Zakariya Zubeidi, then-leader of the al-Aqsa martyrs brigades looks on during a demonstration supporting Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank city of Jenin, February 10, 2005.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SAEED DAHLAN)
Several Palestinians, including the former commander of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, were arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of involvement in severe and recent terror activity, the Shin Bet (Israel security agency) said.
Zakariya Zubeidi and Tarek Barguth, an attorney from east Jerusalem with a blue identity card, were arrested in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police operation and transferred to the Shin Bet for further questioning.
According to a report by Channel 13, Zubeidi was arrested in his home north of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
While Zubeidi, who was once considered a “symbol of the Intifada,” renounced militancy over a decade ago, according to the report by Channel 13 he was arrested following intelligence that he was planning a serious attack in the West Bank.
Zubeidi was awarded clemency by Israel after he agreed to give up arms
In a 2009 interview with Palestinian Maan News, Zubeidi said that Palestinian resistance could coexists alongside negotiating with Israel, saying that “this resistance is not defined yet. It could be armed resistance and it could be peaceful resistance.”
In 2012, Zubeidi was arrested by the Palestinian Authority, being accused of “collaboration” with Israel
and killing Israeli-Arab filmmaker Juliano Mar-Khamis. Zubeidi denied the charges and said that he was tortured and kept under inhumane conditions in the PA’s prison in Jericho.
In early 2013 Zubeidi turned himself into Palestinian security forces after Israel revoked his amnesty and spent the next four years in prison. He was released in 2017 and returned to Jenin with his amnesty reinstated.
Also on Wednesday morning, security forces arrested 22 other Palestinians, including Jerusalem Governor Adnan Gheith and Mohammad Mahmoud, an attorney representing the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.
Gheith, a resident of Silwan, was arrested by the Jerusalem police, apparently for his role in the recent events on the Temple Mount, during which Palestinians reopened a site that had been closed by court order in 2003. Gheith, a senior Fatah official, has been arrested twice in the past few months on suspicion of carrying out illegal activities on behalf of the PA in east Jerusalem. He was recently served with an order banning him from entering the West Bank for six months.
According to a statement released by Israel Police, a senior Palestinian official and another individual were detained on suspicion fraud and forgery as well as of violating a law that limits PA activity in Jerusalem.
The PA accused Israel of arresting “senior Palestinian officials” and said that the Israeli “incursion” into Ramallah “affirms that the Israeli government is continuing with its policy of disregarding all agreements signed with the Palestinians and all international laws.”
The Palestinian leadership “condemns the ongoing assaults, incursions and provocations,” the PA said. It also condemned what it called the “storming by Jewish settlers of Al-Aqsa Mosque and police officers of the Bar al-Rahma mosque.”
The Israeli measures will not undermine the Palestinians’ “steadfastness and their commitment to their leaders and national principles, first and foremost Jerusalem and its holy sites,” the PA said in a statement.
The PA was referring to a routine visit to the Temple Mount by Jews on Wednesday and a tour by Jerusalem police officers to the Golden Gate site, also known as Gate of Mercy (Bab al-Rahma).
The PA warned Israel against the “dangers of infringement” of Al-Aqsa Mosque and said it would have dangerous repercussions.” It called on the Arabs and Muslims to immediately intervene to stop the Israeli “assaults, which will plunge the region into religious conflict.”
Fatah also condemned the Israeli crackdown and said the Palestinians will continue to “defend their homeland and holy sites.” It said that Jerusalem “will remain the real battle for the Palestinians and their leaders, who will continue the struggle until their national goals are achieved.”
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