Israeli occupation forces extend West Bank lockdown
Israel announced the extended closure of the West Bank until midnight on Saturday, in light of the search of six missing Palestinian prisoners, the military said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the army said the decision was made "based upon an evaluation of the security situation and efforts made to find the prisoners" who escaped the Gilboa Prison, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The closure of the West Bank began on Monday afternoon, ahead of the Jewish New Year 'Rosh Hashanah', and was due to end on Wednesday night.
Six Palestinian detainees, believed to have been in the same cell, managed to escape the high-security Gilboa prison on Monday by digging a tunnel under a cell toilet, according to prison authorities. This was followed by the Israeli army deploying military enforcements in the West Bank to find the fleeing prisoners.
In the statement, the occupation army said after assessing the security situation, under the supervision of their Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, it was decided they would strengthen military forces in the West Bank with "combat and aerial monitor units to arrest detainees and prevent terrorist attacks", the report added.
This comes as Palestinian youth movements and activists planned to carry out solidarity protests for the escaped prisoners in several areas of the West Bank on Wednesday, as marches continue for the second day.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an extensive security meeting with Israeli defence and security chiefs on Wednesday, his spokesman said in a statement.
In the meeting repercussions and consequences of the prisoners' escape were discussed, and Bennett said Israel was "prepared for any scenario" moving forward, according to Reuters.
This is the second such meeting Bennet has held with security leaders in the country, after convening with them on Monday to discuss the prisoners' escape, which a figure in Israel's prison authority deemed "a major security and intelligence failure".
In a tweet, Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz wrote "throughout the holiday I had a series of conversations and situation assessments following the terrorist escape incident and its effects. The IDF is working with all the forces in order to bring about their capture".
In retaliation to the escape, Israel arrested four family members of the escapees, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) reported that 4,640 Palestinians had been detained by Israel, including 200 children.