Israeli police capture four of six Palestinian prison escapees

Israel had launched a manhunt for six prisoners who made a daring jail break on Monday from the high security Gilboa prison through a tunnel dug beneath a sink in a cell.

Four of the six Palestinian inmates who escaped from a high security prison in northern Israel this week have been captured, Israeli police and media said.

There were no immediate details where the latest two escapees had been caught. It came hours after Israeli police said they had caught two of the six Palestinians whose daring escape has captured the country’s attention.

“Police in the northern zone captured two escaped prisoners a short while ago… in the city of Nazareth,” a statement said on Friday, without giving further details.

Video on social media showed Israeli officers putting two men into the back of separate police vehicles.

The two men did not resist arrest, a police spokeswoman said.

Israel had launched a manhunt for the six prisoners who made a daring jail break on Monday from the high security Gilboa prison through a tunnel dug beneath a sink in a cell.

The Israeli army has sent reinforcements to the occupied West Bank, which it placed under “general closure”, with much of the focus centred on Jenin, the home of prominent escapee Zakaria Zubeidi.

He now has been captured, Israeli media said.

Zubeidi, a former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank city of Jenin, once received Israeli amnesty but was rearrested in 2019 after his alleged involvement in new shooting attacks.

Israeli authorities say the six jail breakers are members of armed Palestinian groups who were being held for plotting or carrying out attacks against Israelis.

One of the wanted men was Mahmud Abdullah Ardah, from Arraba near Jenin, who was imprisoned in 1996 for attacks on Israel claimed by Islamic Jihad.

He is among four who received a life sentence.

Ardah was held in solitary confinement in 2014 after an escape tunnel was found at Israel’s Shata prison, according to his Islamic Jihad biography.

A video circulating on social media showed Israeli police shackling a man from his feet into the backseat of a police vehicle and asking the suspect for his name.

The man, wearing jeans and green T-shirt, calmly identifies himself as Kadari and answers “yes” when asked whether he is one of the escapees. Kadari was serving two life sentences for attempted murder and bomb planting.

Investigation into prison break

The facility the men escaped from, about 4 km (2 miles) from the boundary with the occupied West Bank, is one of the highest-security jails in Israel.

On Thursday Israel announced a formal inquiry into lapses that allowed the six to escape.

An Israeli injunction is in effect against publishing details of the prison break investigation, even as local media report on the scramble to recover from the embarrassing lapse and prevent any possible attack by the fugitives.

Former prison service commissioner Orit Adato told reporters on Thursday that the escape amounted to “a huge crisis” for the IPS, even if such incidents are extremely rare.

Earlier on Friday, Hamas had called for “a day of rage” to protest Israeli crackdown against imprisoned Palestinians, but the day passed without major confrontation.

In the Gaza Strip as well as in occupied West Bank, Palestinians organised sit-ins and joyful gatherings to celebrate the prison break.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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