Photo: Reuters
Zakariya Zubeidi - Man about town
Photo: Reuters
Zubeidi leaves Jenin for first time in 8 years
Within framework of amnesty agreement with Israel, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander ventures outside of Jenin, travels to Ramallah for errands. 'For the first time I felt what it was like to walk around without looking to the skies for UAVs or fear suspicious vehicles,' he told Ynet

Perhaps the most prominent commander of Fatah's military wing in the West Bank, Zakariya Zubeidi, traveled to Ramallah on Wednesday for his first excursion from Jenin in over eight years.


Zubeidi, who headed the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp, is among the 24 wanted Palestinians granted amnesty by Israel as part of a series of gestures to the Fatah movement and its leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


In all, 24 men wanted by Israeli authorities for their involvement in terror attacks were granted reprieve in exchange for the operatives' signed renunciation of terror and the sale of their weapons to the Palestinian Authority.


Wanted by Israel for organizing roadside shootings and suicide bombing attacks, Zubeidi, 31, narrowly escaped several Israeli attempts to capture or kill him.


I cannot describe, he told Ynet on Wednesday after passing through the military checkpoints en route to Ramallah, how it feels to breathe foreign air and feel free.


Four of those who were granted amnesty were fully pardoned, and therefore were also granted complete freedom of movement within the West Bank and outside it.


"I came here to rest, to meet friends and also to undergo an eye examination," Zubeidi said.


"The confirmation of the list of wanted operatives who were pardoned increases the faith of those who are wanted and the other operatives in the movement's leadership and policies, it proves that our commitment to honor the agreement and the ceasefire was worth it. I thank our leadership and our commanders for their success in this matter.


"'For the first time I felt what it was like to walk around without looking to the skies for UAVs or fear suspicious vehicles. Going through the checkpoints reminded me of the suffering the Palestinian people endures for long hours in jams and roadblocks," he said.


Zubeidi recently launched the 'Freedom Theater' for children in Jenin. ''We want to take the Palestinian cause to the people through theater,'' he said at the time, "… If the children weren't in here, they'd be on the streets.''


First published: 07.23.08, 23:34
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