Israel charges Palestinian official, lawyer over shootings

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel has charged a Palestinian Authority official and a prominent Palestinian lawyer over shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles in the occupied West Bank, authorities said Monday.

Zakaria Zubeidi and Tareq Barghout were accused of carrying out the shootings between November 2016 and January 2019, said Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency.

It said in a statement that the pair used Zubeidi's official PA vehicle for transportation in the Ramallah area in the shootings, which left three people slightly wounded.

The statement said that in November 2018 and January 2019 they fired at Israeli buses travelling near the Jewish settlement of Beit El.

In December, it added, the two men fired at a bus on its way to Psagot settlement but missed.

Shin Bet also said that Barghout confessed to shooting and damaging a police vehicle at a crossing point between the West Bank and east Jerusalem in November 2016.

Zubeidi, a former head of a militant group who later became an official with the PA commission for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, was arrested by security forces in February.

"He will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, including for previous activity, and will be tried for all of the various terrorist attacks in which he has been involved," Shin Bet said.

Detained with him was Barghout, described in Monday's statement as a Ramallah-based lawyer who represented Palestinians jailed by Israel for security-related offences.

The statement said he had also been employed as a lawyer with the prisoners' commission.

It said indictments had been filed against both by military prosecutors in connection with the shootings.

Zubeidi, from the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp in the northern West Bank, was formerly head of the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades militant group.

In 2007 he pledged to disarm in returning for Israel's agreement to remove him from its list of wanted militants.