Last two Palestinian fugitives from Israeli prison break captured

by mcardinal

Michael Cardinal, FISM NEWS

Israel officials announced Sunday that they captured the last two remaining Palestinian terrorists who had escaped from a high security prison nearly two weeks ago.

The Israeli military captured Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafayat after surrounding the fugitive’s hideout in the city of Jenin located in the West Bank. The capture was the result of a combined effort between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Shin Bet Security Service and the Israeli Police Counter Terrorism Unit. Shin Bet had provided accurate intelligence on the location of the two men last week, which prompted the operation.

IDF forces created a purposeful diversion by sending forces into various areas in the contested region including a nearby refugee camp, in order to prevent further conflict, while officers apprehended the men.  The men surrendered without incident and officials also arrested two others who are believed to have aided and abetted the escapees. Palestinians reportedly threw rocks and explosives at IDF forces but the entire operation is reported to have resulted in no injuries or casualties.

Lt. Afek Arad, a commander involved in the operation told the Jerusalem Post that even though there were no injuries, the situation was still intense as Israeli forces were operating in enemy territory:

Just because no troops were hurt or killed doesn’t mean it wasn’t violent… as we were leaving there were gunmen who followed us on motorcycles shooting toward our vehicles and troops. Our forces responded professionally and knew when to be more aggressive and when not to be.

The arrests bring an end to a saga that had contributed to heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine over the past several weeks.

On September 6, six Palestinian prisoners had escaped from a Gilbo’a Prison, an Israeli maximum security prison located in northern Israel near the city of Afula, by tunneling through a hole in their cell floor. The four other members were captured in pairs – and two on Sept. 10 in Nazareth and two on Sept. 11 in the village of Umm el-Ghanem. 

Five of the six terrorists who escaped were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) which according to the IDF press release is “a terrorist organization whose main goal is the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian State in Israel and the destruction of the State of Israel.” All six men have been charged with either murder, violent attacks, or planning terrorist attacks.

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the the combined efforts of Israeli security and defense forces calling the captures “an impressive, sophisticated and quick operation.” He also vowed to look into the break down in security that allowed the men to escape but said, “what went wrong can be repaired.”

Palestinian officials have announced that they will continue to protest the arrests of the men and will seek their release as part of further negotiations.