A former Palestinian militant who renounced violence in favor of “cultural resistance” is in custody after Israel apparently revoked an amnesty deal in a move seen by his associates as part of a campaign of harassment against a radical West Bank theater.
Zakaria Zubeidi, a former leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, is being held by Palestinian security forces after being told he would be arrested by Israeli authorities if he did not hand himself in.
“I am in a Palestinian Authority [PA] jail in Jenin,” he said by telephone.
Zubeidi, 33, was one of Israel’s most wanted militants during the Palestinian intifada in the early years of the last decade, suspected of making bombs used in suicide attacks. In 2007, he was included in an amnesty offered by the Israeli government to about 200 militants, and handed his weapons over to PA security forces.
He became the director of the Freedom theater in Jenin, which claims to use art as “a form of resistance to oppression.”
The Freedom theater aims to challenge Israel’s “violent military occupation” through its productions and workshops, but it has also tackled taboo issues in Palestinian society.
“I continued my struggle against occupation through cultural resistance,” Zubeidi said.
He had adhered to the conditions of the amnesty deal and had been given no explanation of why it had been rescinded, he told other media outlets.
The theater said that Zubeidi’s life was in danger following the revocation of the amnesty deal.
“The amnesty agreement allowed him to remain safe inside ... Jenin, where the Israeli military would not seek to arrest or assassinate him,” it said in a statement.