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Senior Palestinian official carried out shooting attacks

Zakaria Zubeidi, a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official in the Prisoner Affairs ministry, carried out shooting attacks on Israeli buses, according to Israel’s Internal Security agency the Shin Bet.

Zubeidi was arrested on 27 February in Ramallah, together with his lawyer Tarek Barghut, and they were indicted in a military court on Sunday. The Shin Bet presented evidence that Zubeidi carried out shooting attacks on Israeli buses including two attacks outside Beit El in the West Bank in November 2018 and January 2019, in which three people were injured. An M-16 assault rifle and ammunition used in the attacks were found in their possession at the time of arrest.

Zubeidi will also be charged with offences relating to attacks more than a decade ago, that had previously been excused under an amnesty deal. Zubeidi was previously the Jenin commander of Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, during the Second Intifada. He was suspected of orchestrating a number of terrorist attacks in that period.

He was offered an amnesty in 2007, on condition that he agreed to give up all violent and illegal activities and abandon terrorist networks. The Shin Bet said that his recent alleged activity constituted a “blatant and violent violation of these agreements, negating the amnesty agreement.” The Shin Bet said: “Zubeidi will be brought to justice for all of the terrorist activities in which he was involved — both from his past and those that were uncovered recently.”

Tarek Barghut worked with Zubeidi at the Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs Ministry. He has an Israeli ID card and belongs to Israel’s Bar Association, but lives in Ramallah. He has represented a number of terrorist suspects. According to the Shin Bet, the pair used Zubeidi’s car in the attacks, a vehicle he was given by the PA as part of his work for its Prisoner Affairs Ministry.

The Shin Bet said: “This was a grave act in which a senior member of the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Ministry and an Israeli lawyer who worked for the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Ministry carried out serious terror attacks, using a PA car that was used by Zubeidi for his work in the ministry. Intelligence and operational efforts by security forces, immediately after the shooting attacks and the following weeks — all of this within Ramallah city limits — led to the discovery of this cell and prevented future serious terror attacks.”