Israel captures two of six Palestinian jailbreakers: police

Israel captures two of six Palestinian jailbreakers, police says
2 min read
10 September, 2021
The two men, who broke out of the high-security Gilboa prison on Monday, were captured in Nazareth, Israeli police said.
Israel had launched a manhunt for the six escapees after they broke out of Gilboa prison on Monday [Getty]

Two of the six Palestinian inmates who escaped from a high-security prison in northern Israel this week were captured Friday, Israeli police said.

"Police in the northern zone captured two escaped prisoners a short while ago... in the city of Nazareth," a statement said, without giving further details.

Israel had launched a manhunt for the six prisoners who made a daring jailbreak Monday from the high-security Gilboa prison through a tunnel dug beneath a sink in a cell.

The Israeli army has sent reinforcements to the occupied West Bank, which it placed under "general closure", with much of the focus centred on Jenin, the home of prominent escapee Zakaria Zubeidi.

Israeli authorities say the six jailbreakers are members of armed Palestinian groups who were being held for plotting or carrying out attacks against Israelis.

One of the wanted men is Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, from Arraba near Jenin, who was imprisoned in 1996 for attacks on Israel claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

He is among four who received a life sentence.

infographic - Gilboa Prison break

Ardah was held in solitary confinement in 2014 after an escape tunnel was found at Israel's Shata prison, according to his PIJ biography.

On Thursday Israel announced a formal inquiry into lapses that allowed the six to escape.

An Israeli injunction is in effect against publishing details of the jailbreak investigation, even as local media report on the scramble to recover from the embarrassing lapse and prevent any possible attack by the fugitives.

Former prison service commissioner Orit Adato told reporters Thursday that the escape amounted to "a huge crisis" for the Israel Prison Service, even if such incidents are extremely rare.