Palestinian terrorist completes MA in prison, honored by university

Terrorist who planned deadly attacks was publicly honored at Birzeit University graduation ceremony.

By World Israel News Staff

A notorious Palestinian terrorist recently completed his M.A. degree while incarcerated in an Israeli prison and was honored by his alma mater with a public recognition of his academic accomplishments during a graduation ceremony.

Zakariya Zubeidi, the one-time chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin, has been imprisoned since 2019 due to his involvement in the planning and execution of a number of deadly incidents during the second intifada, including a 2002 attack on a polling station which saw six Israelis killed.

Zubeidi was also one of the six terrorists who escaped from an Israeli prison in the north of the country in September 2021. He was recaptured by authorities after five days on the run.

But despite an Israeli law explicitly prohibiting terrorists from studying while imprisoned, Zubeidi recently completed his M.A. at Birzeit University, with his daughter holding aloft a large banner with his name and face on it during the school’s graduation ceremony in early July.

“Birzeit University began its graduation ceremony celebrations of the 47th class of its students from the legal and public administration faculty and the faculty for higher education,” reads a summary of the event from the official Palestinian Authoirty daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

Framing Zubeidi’s incarceration as the silencing of an academic, the paper continued by saying that the “occupation’s 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.”

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Zubeidi “completed [his studies] with the highest honors… This is a success for Palestine, for the fighter’s rifle,” a university official said during a graduation ceremony speech broadcast by Palestinian TV.

“Peace be upon the day you were born and the day you fought, on the day you were pursued and the day you pursued, on the day you were imprisoned and the day you went out from the freedom tunnel in occupied [Israel], and the day you will be raised alive as a free man.”

Watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch noted that the Palestinian Authority-funded Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs also honored Zubeidi for getting his degree with a dedicated post on its Facebook page.

Although the Israeli Prisons Authority maintains that it respects the Israeli law that people convicted of terror offenses are not permitted to access higher education, it appears that the policy is not enforced within Israeli correctional institutions.