Science at the service of resistance

May 23, 2021 - 20:13

TEHRAN – Very little is known about the persons who were martyred during the last Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip. Undoubtedly, many of them were innocent children and women who were killed in revenge for the Israeli army’s failure in targeting the leaders of the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza. 

As one Israeli pilot revealed, these victims were targeted in residential towers during the aggression as “a way to give vent to the army's frustration, after its failure to stop the firing of rockets from the Strip.”

However, Israel also targeted some influential figures in Gaza, who were associated with the resistance against Israel. Professor Jamal al-Zebda and his son Usama were among these figures. Jamal is definitely one of the unsung heroes of the Palestinian resistance against Israel. He was a professor of engineering sciences and mechanics at the Islamic University of Gaza and graduated with a Ph.D. degree from Virginia Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science nearly 35 years ago. 

Professor Jamal received his university education in Virginia, USA, obtained a doctorate in civil aviation and studied the engine of the F-16 fighter plane, then worked at NASA space agency, before returning to Gaza to champion the Palestinian cause, according to Al Jazeera. 

He refused to stay in the U.S. and work there as a university professor despite the fact that his family obtained U.S. citizenship and he had an opportunity to lead a life of luxury and serenity. However, he left the U.S. and began a long journey into Gaza that culminated in his martyrdom. 

Al-Zebda worked in secret under the eyes of a resistance commander called Muhammad Deif to develop its military capabilities, heading a group of local engineers and experts, working day and night to turn the scarce resources in the Gaza Strip into advanced tools facing the occupation army.

Al-Zebda graduated a large generation of engineers from the Islamic University and secretly recruited hundreds of them to work in the secret program of the resistance to develop its military tools, especially with regard to missiles and drones, according to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper. 

The newspaper also said that Israel viewed al-Zebda as someone similar to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in the eyes of Iran. 

This made him a prime target for Israel since at least 2012 when al-Zebda was targeted by Israel but survived. According to activists, al-Zebda has remained in hiding since 2012, and Israeli intelligence pursued him between 2007 and 2010, and Israeli warplanes tried to assassinate him by bombing his apartment in the 2014 war.

Al-Zebda’s wife said his progenies will continue the path of the professor. In an interview with Al Jazeera, she said the occupation did not understand that even if Jamal al-Zebda was killed, there exists a thousand of Jamal al-Zebda in our land and that he has instilled in the souls of his children and grandchildren adherence to the Palestinian cause and defending it very dearly.

The wife vowed that she will raise her grandchildren on the path of their grandfather and will not deviate from the path of pride and dignity until they liberate their entire land from the occupier. Usama’s wife also echoed the same thing. “I will raise my children according to the path of their father and grandfather, and the occupier will not be satisfied on our land, and the martyrdom of my husband and his father is an honor for all of us, and we pledge them to complete their path,” she said. 

Al-Zebda is an example of how attractive the Palestinian cause is for millions of Muslims, especially Arabs, who would sacrifice worldly life in the cause of freedom and dignity. 

The episode also revealed how important is the need to use science in the defense of the oppressed. Thanks to al-Zebda and his devoted colleagues, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip now can inflict a painful cost on a regime that continues to disregard international law and regulations by targeting civilians living in residential towers.

The martyrdom of al-Zebda also showed how strong is the support for Palestine in Arab public opinion. Al-Zebda was not the first scientist who dedicated his life to the Palestinian cause. Mohammad Zouari was also a Tunisian engineer, who helped the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza develop drones. He was shot dead in 2016 in a drive-by shooting operation generally attributed to Mossad.

Israel may assassinate scientists and commanders but it will never succeed in killing the strong will among Arab peoples to resist occupation. Israel strived to project a different image of itself after a number of Arab states normalized diplomatic relations with it. But the 12-day war against brought Israel back to square one, where it is widely seen – at least among Muslims- as a rogue, occupying regime, which cold-bloodedly kills innocent civilians and tramples on Muslim sanctities almost on a daily basis.