The Escape and Capture of Zakaria Zubeidi | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

The Escape and Capture of Zakaria Zubeidi

Heroes are rare; they are tragic and inspiring at the same time. Such a real-life hero is Zakaria Zubeidi, 45, from Jenin in Palestine. A man of brawn and brain, of sword and harp, he was an al Aqsa Brigade commander as well as the director of the Freedom Theatre. Years ago, the Sunday Times called him ‘one of Israel’s most wanted and implacable enemies’. A cat of nine lives, he survived many Israeli assassination attempts; he had been in and out of jail many times; he got his first Israeli bullet at 13; his film premiere at 14.

A few days ago, he staged an audacious escape from Israel’s high security prison, together with five other convicts. They dug a 20 yard-long tunnel with their spoons, just like the Count of Monte Cristo, and emerged outside the walls, squeezing through a narrow communication channel. This brave, nay impossible feat encouraged the captive Palestinians and gave them a second wind when they were exhausted and desperate. The people in the Holy Land and the large Palestinian diaspora held its collective breath following their escape and prayed for them to reach safety.

It is normal for humans to empathise with fugitives, rather than pursuers. Young readers of Uncle Tom’s Cabin thus followed the plight of Eliza, child in tow, crossing the frozen Ohio River from bondage to freedom, escaping the murderous dogs and slave catchers. Alas, Zakaria never reached the safe shore. In the Dixie of the 1830s, there were courageous and noble white people who harboured the runaway black slaves. Germans and Russians, Poles and Frenchmen provided refuge for the Jews that escaped from the camps. In Israel 2021, not a single Jew offered the fugitives water and food nor helped a Palestinian runaway; everyone who saw them immediately informed police, said the authorities. In a few days, four starved prisoners were hunted down, beaten up and taken back to jail; two are still at large.

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