Israeli forces recapture last two Palestinian prisoners who broke out of jail

Escape exposed deep security flaws in Israel

A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel where six Palestinian prisoners escaped from almost two weeks ago. Photograph: Ahmad GHarabli / AFP/ Getty Images

A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel where six Palestinian prisoners escaped from almost two weeks ago. Photograph: Ahmad GHarabli / AFP/ Getty Images

 

Israeli forces have arrested the last two of six Palestinian prisoners who escaped a maximum-security jail almost two weeks ago.

The arrests close an episode that exposed deep security flaws in Israel and turned the fugitives into Palestinian heroes.

The Israeli military said the two men surrendered in Jenin, their hometown in the occupied West Bank, after they were surrounded on Sunday at a hideout that had been located with the help of “accurate intelligence”.

It said the men, along with two others who allegedly assisted them, were taken for questioning.

Palestinian media reported that clashes erupted in Jenin when Israeli troops entered the city.

However, a spokesman for Israeli police said the two escapees – Munadil Nafayat and Iham Kamamji – were arrested without resistance. The military said clashes broke out as the forces withdrew, with residents hurling rocks and explosives at troops who responded with live fire.

Fouad Kamamji, Iham’s father, said his son had called him when the Israeli troops surrounded the house and said he will surrender “in order not to endanger the house owners”.

The prisoners all managed to tunnel out of a maximum-security prison in northern Israel on September 6th.

According to various reports, the men dug a hole in the floor of their shared cell undetected over several months and managed to slip past a sleeping prison guard after emerging through a hole outside the facility.

A massive pursuit operation followed and the first four inmates, who also are from Jenin, were captured in two operations.

Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett praised the various Israeli security forces that worked to recapture the men for “an impressive, sophisticated and quick operation”.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have celebrated the escape and held demonstrations in support of the prisoners.

Israel considers all six of the men to be terrorists. Five are from the Islamic Jihad militant group, with four of them serving life sentences, and the sixth, Zakaria Zubeidi, is a member of the secular Fatah group of president Mahmoud Abbas. – AP