Zafer Masri was born in Nablus in 1941, where he lived and completed his secondary education. He went on to complete a degree in Business Administration at the American University in Beirut in 1964 and returned to Nablus to manage the businesses and affairs of the family in the West Bank. In 1972 he married Raghda Nabulsi, a daughter of a prominent Palestinian family.
Zafer was elected head of the Chamber of Commerce in 1972, the youngest member ever to hold this post in the history of the city. In the 1976 municipal elections he was elected Deputy Mayor of Nablus. He held both posts until 1982, when the Israeli government dissolved the municipal board placing the city under martial law, leaving the city without local leadership for three and a half years.
In 1985, the PLO took steps to reestablish local control over the affairs of the cities of the West Bank including Nablus. In a solution based on the Jordanian laws governing municipality affairs and proposed by a senior PLO official, Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad), the Chamber of Commerce took over management of the municipality until new elections could be held. As a result, Zafer Masri, as leader of the Chamber, became the de-facto Mayor of Nablus.
This direction was opposed by a Syrian based hard-line PFLP faction who signaled their rejection with the assassination of Zafer Masri on 2 March 1986 shortly before the start of the Palestinian intifada.
His Funeral was attended by more than 200 thousand people and was a mark in the history of the city of Nablus. He will always be a patriotic martyr.
In addition to his civic activities, Zafer al Masri was known for his generosity and was referred to as “Father of the Poor.” His philanthropic activities are continued today through the Zafer Masri Foundation serving the citizens of Nablus and Palestine.