Terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi. (Oren Ziv/POOL/Flash90) Oren Ziv/POOL/Flash90
Terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi

Despite a 2011 decision of the Israeli government that prohibits university studies for terrorist prisoners, they continue to be awarded degrees by Palestinian organizations.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Birzeit University in the Palestinian Authority (PA) launched its 2022 graduation ceremonies by granting a Master’s Degree to senior terrorist Zakariya Zubeidi and other terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Announcing the award, a university judging committee member said that Zubeidi completed his studies “with highest honor in implementation, and with highest honor in theoretical thinking. This is a success for Palestine, for the fighter’s rifle.”

The official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida used the event as an opportunity to attack Israel, calling Zubeidi’s incarceration a “violation against education.”

“The occupation’s [Israel] actions and violations against education in Palestine were present at the graduation ceremony, as the student daughter of prisoner Zakariya Zubeidi who is imprisoned in the occupation’s [prison] cells, received her father’s master’s degree diploma in modern Arab studies,” the newspaper reported.

Zubeidi was the head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, in the Jenin area during the 2000 – 2005 terror campaign. During that period, he oversaw numerous lethal attacks. Despite his heavy involvement in terrorism, in 2007, as part of a deal with the PA, Zubeidi was taken off Israel’s wanted list on the condition that he refrain from further participation in terror. He was subsequently given a position in the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and made a Fatah Revolutionary Council member.

Despite having received a second chance, Zubeidi was arrested by Israel in February 2019 for participating in shooting attacks against Israelis.

He was recently part of a six-man cell that escaped from the Gilboa Prison in September 2021. He was captured a few days later.

Zubeidi received his degree together Assaf Zahran, who is serving five life sentences for transporting 18-year-old suicide bomber Ahmed Abu Khalil to the entrance of the Hasharon Mall in Netanya where he murdered five Israelis and wounded 88 others on July 12, 2005.

The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has already exposed that the PA-funded Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs spends millions of dollars every year in paying fees to the universities that provide degrees to the imprisoned terrorist.

These studies contravene Israeli law. A 2011 decision of the Israeli government prohibited university studies for terrorist prisoners. While the PA, the PA universities, and the terrorists themselves boast about the studies in Israeli prisons, the Israel Prison Service claims that it fully upholds the law and that the prisoners are not really studying.

PMW further pointed out that studying for free in prison is “only one of numerous benefits” imprisoned terrorists receive from the PA. They receive monthly salaries that rise with time spent in prison. Since Zubeidi had spent five years in prison for previous terror offenses, the PA immediately started paying him a salary of NIS 4,000 ($1,286) per month. To date, the PA has paid Zubeudi a cumulative sum of NIS 160,000 ($51,440) shekels.

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