Israel arrests former terror leader, citing ‘serious’ current activities
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Israel arrests former terror leader, citing ‘serious’ current activities

In addition to Zakaria Zubeidi, Shin Bet detains attorney Tarek Barghout, whom the security service says was also involved in terrorist plots

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

File: Zakaria Zubeidi, then the local commander of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and other gunmen march along the streets of the West Bank town of Jenin on April 2, 2005. (Mohammed Ballas/AP Photo)
File: Zakaria Zubeidi, then the local commander of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and other gunmen march along the streets of the West Bank town of Jenin on April 2, 2005. (Mohammed Ballas/AP Photo)

Israeli security forces on Wednesday arrested Zakaria Zubeidi, a former Palestinian terrorist leader long sought by Israeli law enforcement, on suspicion that he was engaged in “serious and current terrorist activities,” the Shin Bet said.

In addition to Zubeidi, Israeli forces also arrested on similar charges the attorney Tarek Barghout, who often represents terror suspects.

“This morning, in a joint operation by the Shin Bet security service, Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, Zakaria Zubeidi and Tarek Barghout were arrested in connection with their involvement in serious and current terrorist activities,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The security service refused to elaborate on the nature of the suspicions against Zubeidi and Barghout.

The two men were arrested in the Ramallah area of the central West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

According to Palestinian media, Israeli forces also confiscated Barghout’s car in Ramallah.

During the Second Intifada, Zubeidi served as the commander of the Jenin region of Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. He was also suspected of being one of the chief architects of several terror attacks during the early 2000s.

Zubeidi, who also helped found Jenin’s Freedom Theatre in 2006, evaded capture by Israeli forces for years, before the Israeli government offered him and several other al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members amnesty in 2007.

While he was wanted by Israel for his terrorist activities, Zubeidi began a relationship with an Israeli woman, Tali Fahima, in 2004. Fahima moved into Zubeidi’s Jenin home in order to act as a human shield and prevent Israel from conducting an airstrike to kill him. She was later arrested and convicted of assisting an enemy in wartime.

In December 2011, the Israeli government rescinded Zubeidi’s amnesty without public explanation. Zubeidi has been on Jerusalem’s wanted list ever since.

Initially, Zubeidi evaded capture by Israeli forces by remaining in Palestinian Authority custody in Ramallah. He was released by the PA and permitted to return to Jenin in 2017.

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