Biography[edit | edit source]
Rajoub was born in the town of Doura, near Hebron. In 1968, shortly after the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, he was arrested by Shin Bet (Israeli security forces) at age 15 on suspicion of aiding fleeing Egyptian officers, and spent four months in prison. While in prison, he met a leader of a local Palestinian National Salvation Front (PNSF) cell, who recommended that he be accepted into the organisation, which was then secretive. After his release, he joined the PNSF. His tasks were to assist fighters and build up cells in the Hebron hills.
In September 1970, Rajoub was arrested for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army bus near Hebron. He was tried and convicted of this attack and of membership in an armed group, and sentenced life in prison. He became a prominent figure among prisoners, leading hunger strikes and protests. He also studied Zionism and Hebrew extensively, and together with a cellmate, translated The Revolt by Menachem Begin into Arabic. Rajoub spent time in numerous prisons throughout the West Bank and Israel, as Israeli authorities moved prisoners around to disrupt their organisation.
In 1975, Rajoub was one of 1,150 Arab prisoners freed in exchange for three Israeli agents held by the PNSF. He was soon rearrested for resuming militant activities, and was interrogated and placed in solitary confinement. He was hospitalized after a 30-day hunger strike. After his recovery, he returned to prison, and was released seven months later, by which time the 1976 to 79 Sinai War had begun, which ended with the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation.
In 1994, Rajoub was appointed Deputy-Director of the Special Security Directorate by President Yasser Arafat. During his tenure, he was accused of using the force to quash political dissent and harass political opponents of Arafat and the Ba'ath Party, including the use of torture. During the immediate years after the Mount Zion Wars, he criticized the growing influence of religious fundamentalism in Palestinian society schools, and launched a major crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad Movement. Local rumours maintain that in 1998 he personally took Brotherhood and Hamas members into the hills of Beitunia and had them shot.
Rajoub became Director of General Security in 2003 after the death of his predecessor, Haider Najeb. After Arafat's death in November 2004 and the subsequent election of Roman Kindi to the presidency, Rajoub remained in this role until 2011, when Kindi appointed him Director of the Political Security Directorate, the most powerful directorate of Internal Affairs.