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Hunt Continues for Two Remaining Escaped Palestinian Prisoners

September 13, 2021

by: Kate Norman

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Israeli soldiers operating (illustrative)

Monday, 13 September 2021 | Israeli forces are still hunting for two of the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from a maximum-security prison in northern Israel last week. Four were recaptured over the weekend.

Following the escape last Monday, Israel launched a large-scale manhunt for the six prisoners, five of whom are Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and a commander from the militant Fatah (leading secular Palestinian political party) Al-Aqsa brigade.

While four of the escapees were caught over the weekend, two PIJ-affiliated prisoners remain at large. Iham Kamamji and Munandil Nafiyat are still on the run, with Israeli officials concerned that they may have split up.

The fear is that “at least one of them is in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria],” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said in a radio interview Sunday. They are also concerned that the two fugitives could execute terror attacks.

Kamamji, one of the men, was serving a life sentence in prison for murdering an Israeli teenager in 2006, the Times of Israel reported. The other, Nafayat, was being detained for his affiliation with the PIJ.

The six men tunneled out of Gilboa Prison in the north, digging through the drainage system leading into the prison’s foundation, which provided an easy exit from the prison walls. They fled the area in the predawn hours last Monday, with security officials assuming they would make their way toward Jenin, an Arab city in northern Samaria.

They split up into groups of two, hoping to spread the Israeli search teams thin. Nonetheless, the first two were captured Friday night in Nazareth, an Arab city in Israel’s north. And just a few hours later, the other two were found in a nearby Arab town. That pair of fugitives included Zakaria Zubeidi, the notorious Fatah commander who was a well-known leader in the Second Intifada.

The four recaptured fugitives appeared in court in Nazareth on Saturday night, and prosecutors are reportedly working to tack on additional terror charges to lengthen their time behind bars.

After interrogating the four who were recaptured, police learned that the six fugitives stopped at a local mosque for less than an hour to shower and change clothes—but received little additional help.

In fact, Arab Israelis who spotted the escapees assisted in their arrest by reporting them to authorities. Therefore, the prisoners received far less assistance in their escape than originally thought, even doing most of their fleeing on foot after being refused rides.

Israel’s top brass and security officials have vowed to catch the last two fugitives.

The prison escape has stirred the pot, prompting an investigation into the Israeli Prison System to ensure similar escapes are not repeated.

The escape and subsequent manhunt and recaptures have also stirred the Arab community, with multiple riots throughout Arab areas in Judea and Samaria in protest of Israel re-arresting the escaped terrorists.

Hamas and the PIJ, terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip, also chimed in over the weekend, launching rockets toward southern Israel, causing no casualties but prompting retaliatory Israeli strikes on terror targets in the enclave.

Posted on September 13, 2021

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 13, 2021)

Photo Credit: IDF/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

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