Middle East/North Africa

Israel captures final two escaped Palestinian prisoners

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Israeli authorities announced that they have located and captured the two remaining Palestinian prisoners who, along with four others, set off a massive manhunt earlier this month after escaping a high-security detention center. 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted early Sunday local time that following a search assisted by the Israel Security Agency and Israel Police, the remaining two inmates who had been serving time in the Gilboa prison just north of the West Bank had been detained. 

“Both terrorists surrendered after being surrounded by security forces that acted precisely based on accurate intelligence,” the IDF added. 

The Associated Press reported that an Israeli police spokesperson said that the two convicts, Munadil Nafayat and Iham Kamamji, did not resist arrest when they were confronted by authorities at a house where they had been hiding, despite Palestinian media reports noting that clashes broke out when Israeli soldiers entered the men’s hometown of Jenin. 

Iham’s father, Fouad Kamamji, told the AP that when troops surrounded the house, his son called to inform him he would be surrendering “in order not to endanger the house owners.”

The arrests come a week after authorities captured the four other Palestinian inmates in an area near the city of Nazareth, including Zakaria Zubeidi, an ex-commander of the Palestinian nationalist Fatah group’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank. 

The other five inmates are Islamic jihad members, according to authorities, and each of the men prior to their escape were being held for convictions or ongoing investigations into attacks planned and carried out on Israeli citizens. 

The prisoners were able to escape through a narrow hole in their prison cell floor that led to a tunnel, which along with the days-long search by Israeli authorities led to scrutiny over the effectiveness and readiness of Israeli forces. 

Some Palestinians praised the escape on social media, characterizing it as an embarrassing incident that demonstrated the ineptitude of Israel’s security measures. 

Palestinian militant groups also vocalized their support, with Islamic jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab calling the incident a “great heroic act [that] will cause a severe shock to the Israeli security system and will constitute a severe blow to the army and the entire system in Israel.”

Tags Associated Press Israel Israel Defense Forces Israeli–Palestinian conflict Prison escape Twitter
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