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Zakaria Zubeidi on hunger strike as PA detention renewed

Sept. 10, 2012 7:36 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 12, 2012 9:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Former Fatah fighter Zakaria Zubeidi announced on Sunday he will refuse all food and liquid until he is released from Palestinian Authority custody, after almost four months in jail without charge.

The director of Jenin refugee camp's Freedom Theater, which Zubeidi co-founded, said staff are very concerned as people only survive without fluids for around a week.

"He has really had enough of being kept in jail with no charges," Jonathan Stanczak said. Zubeidi was detained on May 13 and his detention has been repeatedly renewed without charges being pressed.

At a court hearing on Sunday his detention was renewed for another eight days. A week earlier, at another renewal hearing, the judge had persuaded Zubeidi to delay his hunger strike while they gathered more information.

"We really had expected him to be released .. but now understand this is a tactic to keep him in prison," Stanczak said.

Zubeidi was released for four days over the Eid al-Fitr holiday in August, raising questions over the prosecutor's insistence that he is remanded in custody for public security reasons, he added.

He refused food for two days before the Eid release, appealing to President Mahmoud Abbas to release him and others seized during a recent security campaign in the West Bank.

Stanczak and Zubeidi's lawyer Farid Hawash say during investigations Zubeidi has been accused of involvement in an armed assault on the home of the Jenin governor in May, after which the politician suffered a fatal heart attack. The incident sparked the PA to launch the broad security crackdown which put Zubeidi and scores of others behind bars.

Investigators also accused him of being linked to the the shooting of his colleague Juliano Mer-Khamis in 2011, they said. Zubeidi left the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which he led in Jenin during the second intifada, to found the ground-breaking theater with Meir Khamis in 2006.

No charges have been brought against Zubeidi, and his family say he has been tortured and abused in jail.

About a month ago he was moved from preventative security jail in Jericho to a police facility, resulting in a huge improvement in his treatment, Hawash said.

The lawyer himself was arrested in July after he told the court that the preventative security services were acting like a mafia and obstructing due process. He was released six days later but is still awaiting a hearing on charges of insulting preventative security and the court.

"They told me in jail they would take me again if I represented Zakaria and said the preventative security are against the law," Hawash said. "But I am not afraid because I know I have only said the truth."
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