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PALESTINIAN prison escape hero Zakaria Zubeidi sent a message to Israel on Tuesday, explaining that its brutal occupation of his land left no option but resistance.
Born in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Mr Zubeidi saw many of his family members shot dead by Israeli forces. He said that these experiences had pushed him to join the armed struggle for Palestinian liberation.
“What do you expect from a person whose father you starved by preventing him from practising his profession as a teacher, whose mother you killed in front of him – shot dead by a sniper – and killed his brother and his best friends, along with 370 sons and daughters of a refugee camp crowded into one square kilometre,” Mr Zubeidi said.
He is considered by many Palestinians to be a symbol of the intifada, thanks to his leadership of the Jenin faction of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah party that controls the Palestinian Authority.
Mr Zubeidi shot to prominence during the Israeli invasion of the Jenin refugee camp in 2002, a 10-day killing spree during which troops allegedly massacred hundreds of Palestinians.
He became one of Israel’s most wanted men in the occupied West Bank after Tel Aviv held him responsible for planning for a November 2002 bomb attack in the Israeli town of Bet She’an which killed six civilians.
After giving up his arms during a 2007 Israeli amnesty, Mr Zubeidi dedicated himself to cultural resistance, but he was jailed in December 2011 after his pardon was revoked due to charges brought against him by the Palestinian Authority.
He was one of the six inmates who escaped from the Gilboa maximum security prison earlier this month after using teaspoons and other cutlery to dig a tunnel.
He was recaptured by Israeli security forces after four days of freedom, with photographs showing him severely beaten and allegations surfacing that his leg was broken during torture in custody.
In Tuesday’s message, sent via his lawyer, he said that the treatment meted out to him and the Palestinian people left no other option but to resist.
“What do you expect from a person whose family you displaced alongside his people, whose rights you suppressed in the most severe way, while you arrested him 20 times and each time tortured his body and soul and made him physically disabled while in the prime of his youth?” he asked.
The recaptured prisoners remain in custody and face a range of fresh charges relating to their escape.
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