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Bloodless, efficient recapture of 6 fugitives won’t obscure the jailbreak fiasco

12 7 16

The arrest of the remaining two Palestinian fugitives in the northern West Bank city of Jenin without a major violent confrontation in the predawn hours of Sunday morning brought to an end a nearly two-week-long crisis in the form of one of the worst and most embarrassing prison breaks in the country’s history, but the story is far from over.

Following the escape by six security prisoners — five of them members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and all of them from the Jenin area — from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, terrorist organizations in the West Bank, and in Jenin specifically, had threatened to violently oppose efforts to arrest the fugitives.

The first two escapees — Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida, who masterminded the jailbreak — were arrested on September 10 in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth and another two — notorious terrorist commander Zakaria Zubeidi and Muhammad al-Arida — were picked up a day later in the nearby town of Shibli–Umm al-Ghanam.

The final two, Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat, remained on the lam for more than another week as Israeli security forces scrambled to locate them. At least one of them was initially believed to have crossed into the West Bank from northern Israel, despite considerable efforts by Israeli security forces to prevent this, with police setting up checkpoints and roadblocks throughout the area. These reportedly prevented the other four from entering the West Bank and aided in their eventual capture. The location of the final fugitive was not immediately known.

In recent days, however, Israeli security forces began to suspect that both men had indeed made it to Jenin and were being hidden in various apartments in the city. According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, by Thursday night Israeli security services had received a tentative go-ahead to conduct an arrest raid in Jenin, an area in which the Palestinian Authority is relatively weak and the potential for violence is therefore higher than in other parts of the West Bank.

On Saturday, the Shin Bet security service received “precise intelligence” about the location of the fugitives, reportedly the home of a family member of one of them.

“As time passed, we knew they were in Jenin,” Police Commissioner Kobi........

© The Times of Israel

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