Daoud Zubeidi, the brother of notorious terror chief and Gilboa prison escapee Zakaria Zubeidi, has died of wounds he sustained during a gun battle with Israeli soldiers, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said Sunday.
Zubeidi, 40, was among 13 Palestinian gunmen reportedly injured Friday in fierce exchanges of fire with Israeli troops in and around the city of Jenin in the West Bank, during an arrest operation carried out by police special forces and the Israeli military.
After he was critically wounded in the gun battle on Friday, Zubeidi was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but when his condition deteriorated, he was transferred to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
Palestinian terror groups in Jenin — including both the loosely Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades — threatened to “open the gates of hell” should Zubeidi come to harm while in Israeli custody.
“Any harm to the life of Daoud Al-Zubeidi will open the fire of hell in the face of the occupation,” masked gunmen apparently affiliated with the Al-Quds Brigades read out in a statement on Saturday.
Israeli police commando Noam Raz, 47, was killed during the same gun battle on Friday. Mourners carried Raz’s coffin to the police cemetery on Mount Zion for burial on Sunday in a private funeral, away from the press.
Zubeidi’s brother Zakaria is notorious for masterminding terror attacks during the Second Intifada. A child actor who turned to violence, Zakaria Zubeidi became a senior commander in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He frequently gave interviews to Israeli media and became a familiar face to the Israeli public.
In 2007, the Shin Bet security service and the Palestinian Authority reached an amnesty deal for thousands of Palestinians who had fought against Israel during the wave of violence. Zakaria Zubeidi was one of them, and founded a so-called “Freedom Theater” in Jenin with a director of both Jewish and Arab Israeli heritage, Juliano Mer-Khamis.
Over a decade later, Israeli forces apprehended Zakaria Zubeidi, accusing him of having resumed his terror activities. The Shin Bet security service later said Zubeidi had confessed to two shooting attacks on buses outside the Beit El settlement in the central West Bank in November 2018 and January 2019 that wounded three people.
While still awaiting trial in September 2021, Zubeidi fled Gilboa jail — along with five other high-risk Palestinian security prisoners — in an escape that transfixed Israelis and Palestinians for weeks.
The six prisoners — five of them members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, along with Fatah commander Zubeidi — made their way out through their cell’s drainage system and an empty space underneath the prison.
Four of the prisoners, including Zubeidi, were captured in northern Israel within the first week, while the other two made their way into the northern West Bank city of Jenin and hid out there until their arrest on September 19.
Israel has recently stepped up its operations in the West Bank and especially in the Jenin area, from which several terrorists behind recent deadly attacks carried out in Israel hailed. The violence has left 19 dead in central Israeli cities since March 22, in the bloodiest wave of terrorism in years.
Around 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the same period; some perpetrated the attacks, while others died during violent clashes. Still others were uninvolved civilians, such as Al-Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh, who died under disputed circumstances in Jenin on Wednesday.