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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Last two escaped prisoners arrested in Jenin, ending manhunt

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The last two remaining prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison earlier this month, Munadil Nafayat and Iham Kahamji, were arrested on Saturday night by Israeli forces in Jenin, putting an end to a nearly two-week-long manhunt.

The arrest was made by the IDF, Shin Bet and police special forces based on intelligence from the Shin Bet. Israeli forces surrounded the house where the prisoners were hiding and the two prisoners surrendered without any struggle and were transferred to the Shin Bet for questioning. Two Palestinians who helped the two prisoners were also arrested by Israeli forces.

Fouad Kahamji, Iham’s father, told Al-Quds.com on Saturday night that Iham had called him before the arrest and told him that he was trapped in a house with civilians and that he would surrender himself for their safety.

Four of the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison, Zakaria Zubeidi, Mahmoud Ardah, Mohammed Qadri and Mohammed Ardah, were captured by security forces in and near Nazareth last weekend.

POLICE OFFICERS and prison guards stand outside the Gilboa jail following the escape by Palestinian security prisoners. (credit: FLASH 90)

Armed clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday night, after large numbers of Israeli forces entered the city, according to Palestinian reports. One Palestinian was wounded, according to the reports. No injuries were reported among Israeli forces.

“Since they escaped, Israel Police, led by the Northern District of the police, has been mobilizing many forces, along with other security organizations, in a wide deployment of thousands of police, Border Police and volunteers, in an intelligence, investigative and operational hunt and thanks to exceptional cooperation between all organizations, the police, the Shin Bet and the IDF, we managed to close the circle together,” said Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai after the two were arrested.

Shabtai explained that the security establishment figured out over time that the two were located in Jenin. Security forces prepared for several days for the operation which took place on Saturday night after information they had been waiting for was received.

“The entire security establishment and we, the officers of Israel Police, will continue to act resolutely and aggressively for the security of the citizens of Israel,” said Shabtai.

Palestinian gunmen in Jenin had said over the weekend that they are prepared to thwart any attempt by the IDF to enter the city or its refugee camp in search of two security prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison.

The gunmen said they have formed a “Joint Operations Room” consisting of representatives of various Palestinian factions to repel a possible “invasion” by the IDF.

Palestinian sources said the gunmen belong to several armed groups affiliated with Fatah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The sources claimed that the IDF was preparing to launch a major offensive in the camp following a series of shooting incidents.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.


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