"We defended Jenin by uniting all organisations"


Interview with Zachariah Zbeidi, Jenin Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade

"If Israel wants peace then there will be a new peace process, if not more Intifadas will follow"
Interview with Zachariah Zbeidi, Jenin Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Jenin refugee camp

In the newly reconstructed Jenin refugee camp the international solidarity delegation headed by the Anti-imperialist Camp, had the possibility to speak to Zachariah Zbeidi, who is since the Israeli massacre committed in the refugee camp the well known leader of the Jenin Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Only thirty years old, he has been shot thirteen times, was wounded first at the age of thirteen, and suffered from burns in his face due to an explosion of a grenade. As a teenager he spent most of the time in prison, in total seven years. His house has been demolished three times, also during the invasion in 2002, then killing his mother and his sister. Three of is brothers are in jail.

After the ceasefire agreement that was signed by him, the Palestinian Authority agreed to increase the amount of money for support of the fighters and martyrs families, in return for his visible political support for the new elected President Abu Mazen.

The delegation spoke with him about the ongoing Gaza evacuation, the relationship between the Palestinian resistance organization and the relationship with Abu Mazen.

What is your evaluation of the Gaza evacuation?

ZZ: We have lived under occupation since 50 years. So I support any step that is good for the Palestinian people. If there is only one settlement removed, it is good. But the problem will not be solved just because the settlers withdrew. Sharon just decided to pullout from Gaza, without any cooperation with the Palestinian National Authority.

Do you think that the pullout from Gaza could be the beginning of a new process ending the second Initfada as Oslo did with the first?

ZZ: It depends on the goodwill of Israel, if there will be a new peace process or not, it is not depending on us. If Israel wants peace then there will be a new peace process, if not more Intifadas will follow.

Do you think that after the Gaza Clashes there could be the danger of a civil war?

ZZ: There are many activities in Gaza, Israel is very busy there. We live under occupation, there is no real Palestinian Authority. I believe that the clashes were provoked by infiltrators, this is a problem every organisation has to deal with.

What about the cooperation with the other organizations, is there a coordination regarding operations?

ZZ: Of course there is a coordination concerning the carried out operations. As inside my organisation it is like for some operations, like in Israel, the ok is given from the leadership only, but for other operations like in the occupied territories when something happens and we have to react, the militants do not have to ask before they start fighting.

How is the relationship between the different organisation of Palestinian resistance in the West Bank?

ZZ: Why we "won" the battle in 2002 in Jenin camp? Because we fought together, the organisations, men, children, the whole camp. We stand together with one aim: to fight against occupation. We did not take orders from outside, we do not care about who gets which support from whom, also the leadership outside the camp did not have any influence on our decision in the fight. The decisions were taken inside the camp.

How would you describe the differences between the organisations?

ZZ: First of all they are all fighters. You could compare them to cars, there are Mercedes, Volkswagen, and so on, but all of them are cars.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are attached to Fatah. After Arafats death, did relations with Fatah, now headed by Abu Mazen, changed?

ZZ: This organisation did not belong to Arafat, nor does it belong to Abu Mazen. What we think of Abu Mazen depends on what he thinks about the question of borders, refugees, Jerusalem and the Palestinian state as a whole. If Abu Mazen thinks on this issues the same as Arafat we will respect him. If he thinks like that the same thing that happened to Yassir Arafat will happen to him, he might get imprisoned.

In April a ceasefire agreement was signed in Sharm el Sheikh. You mentioned you would support any President that sticks to the four historic demands. This cease fire does not guarantee anything, so why did you sign it?

ZZ: We needed to give a chance to Abu Mazen, as we are giving the Israeli side chance after chance, not only the Israelis but also the UN and the USA. This cease fire agreement was not signed due to pressure from outside, but it was our own decision to sign it.

Is not a chance for Abu Mazen the same like a chance for Israel? Israel is not going to accept any of the demands it has rejected for such a long time now, why do you think this will change now?

ZZ: We are not alone, but we live in a big world. Nowadays you find everywhere in the media the war against terror is fought also in Palestine. We became terrorist, we do not fight any more for our rights, but just because we are terrorists. We must change this view, not only through armed resistance, but also through meetings with people like you. We are sure that Israel won´t give us anything, but we have also to work on the public opinion, that armed resistance is only a small part of the whole resistance. We are not strong enough to defeat the Israeli army. There is no balance of forces. We depend on people like you. When I see some people like you I feel like I will win very soon.

What do you think about what is going on in Iraq, about the resistance? Do you think that the resistance there can be of help to you?

ZZ: The war in Iraq is unfair, the Iraqi people is innocent. Bush seems to me as a dictator much worse than Saddam Hussein. We do not have contact with the Iraqi resistance, but we have the responsibility to support them, they are good fighters, we have to respect them. Their cause is just.

Antiimperialist Camp, 19 August 2005, Jenin refugee camp