(Toronto Star) I first met Zakaria Zubeidi in the winter of 2008 as he sat in the lounge of The Freedom Theatre, an unlikely counterculture space in the religiously conservative and conflict-weary Jenin refugee camp.
As a leader of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, during the second intifada, Zubeidi had recently signed a tenuous amnesty with Israel following the collapse of the Palestinian armed uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation.
Eventually encompassing more than 300 former Al-Aqsa members, the initial July 2007 deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority allowed 178 fighters to transition into PA security forces in exchange for renouncing violence against Israel.
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In Zubeidi’s case, he was assured the Israeli military would no longer attempt to assassinate or capture him if he put down his weapons and was confined to Jenin.
Now, four years later, the former Palestinian fighter is recovering after five months of Palestinian Authority detention, during which time he went on multiple hunger strikes to protest what he calls “inhumane” treatment.