The Palestine News Network recently sat down with a somewhat unlikely local hero. He is young for his experiences, in his mid-twenties. Zakaria Zbaidi is the head of the Fateh armed resistance wing, Al Aqsa Brigades, from Jenin Refugee Camp in the northern West Bank. The Israelis have tried to kill him, arrest him, and have spent hours harassing his family members and threatening their home. Although he seems entirely unaware, his charisma at times takes forefront over his works and words of resistance.
What PNN wanted from Zbaidi during this interview were some answers about Al Aqsa’s position as it pertains to the Fateh party and the relationship with the new ruling party Hamas, and its resistance wing, Al Qassam Brigades. The questions are being asked now as the US continues the political and economic blockade, the Israelis up their myriad forms of attacks, and after Fateh and Hamas resistance members engaged in two days of serious gun-battles in the Gaza Strip.
The gist of Zbaidi’s point of view is easily summarized in two pointed sentences. “The only option is to escalate the resistance and the Intifada, and to not forget the sanctity of Palestinian blood by not spilling it on one another. Our position has nothing to do with the victory of Hamas in the elections or the newly formed government.”
Concerning the events in Gaza, Zbaidi told PNN, “We reject any form of political infighting for whatever reason. This is what the Israeli occupying enemy of our people wants us to do, and I was shocked and deeply struck by the bloody events in Gaza. We, in Al Aqsa, consider anything like this to be a tremendous waste of energy and significant achievements, working against our people and our rights.
Speaking for the resistance wing Al Aqsa Brigades, Zbaidi said, “Therefore, our position is not only rejection and condemnation, but there is a genuine effort from the first moment this happened to show our cooperation with all the forces and fraternity parties in Gaza and home to encircle events and stop them immediately. We will not allow Palestinian blood to be shed under any pretext, and everyone if stopped tampering with and trying to destroy our unity, our heroic peoples’ fight against our collective enemy would never be in vain.”
Zbaidi took on the voice of reason as he continued. “We appeal to all of our brothers to return to a round of national dialogue and to stop all forms of provocation and escalation during this critical and dangerous stage. Whatever the differences in the causes and backgrounds, the Gaza events must stop, be investigated, and those responsible must be held accountable-whoever they may be.”
PNN asked Zbaidi why he rejected the idea of a “truce.” He spoke volumes in a sentence. “This question is not directed at the resistance factions, but rather at the occupying government.”
The Palestinian armed resistance did accept a “truce” last year that the Israelis did not honor for even one day. The use of the word “truce” is also misleading, suggesting that there are two equal sides at war, and not a major military occupier and a barely armed occupied population.
Zbaidi said, “We went along with the period of calm and the idea of a truce, but regardless that does not mean that legitimate resistance to occupation is ‘terrorism’ as some attempt to describe. We know the law and we know what our rights are. We have the right to defend ourselves against the occupier as it persists from Jenin to Gaza.”
He continued, “They continue to block off the northern Gaza Strip, build the Wall in the West Bank, takeover Jerusalem, and they’re looting and confiscating our land… They’re building more settlements. I am surprised that we are considering talking about a long-term truce with an occupier so unbridled in its aggressions. They commit massacres regularly. I don’t see where we could negotiate. We have nothing. Our only option is to resist. We insist on continuing the armed uprising and this has nothing to do with the victory of the Hamas government.”
Zbaidi said that the idea that people are too tired to go on struggling after five years is part of a propaganda campaign to get them to stop. “Resistance is in all of us. The Israeli war machine and media hope to cause confusion amongst the people, make us think that we are no longer unified. However, the boycott for instance, is keeping us all fighting them off in Jenin which are written as epics of the finest glory. While in Gaza the people fought with the resistance despite the hideous massacres and bloody bombings. Talking about truces when we lose more every day, and did even when we agreed to one in the past, will not serve us, but rather the occupier. We remember the people who deserve a chance to live. We will always fight for them. This is our legitimate right. As long as the occupation exists we will resist.”
Zbaidi concluded by telling PNN, “Palestinian blood is being shed around the clock from Israeli attacks, while most of the world is succumbing to the dictates of Americans. The Israelis do not abide international law, nor do the Americans for that matter. They make the laws at this point.”