The six Palestinian prisoners who escaped Israeli jail

The six Palestinian prisoners who escaped Israeli jail
3 min read
06 September, 2021
Most of the six men who escaped the Gilboa prison in northern Israel were serving life sentences. They each have a history of fighting the Israeli occupation.
The escape has shaken Israeli authorities [AFP/Getty]

The prison break of six Palestinian prisoners on Monday dealt a heavy blow to Israel’s security apparatus.

Most of the six men who escaped via a tunnel from their cell in the high-security Gilboa Prison and past its walls were on life sentences and had attempted to escape jail on more than one occasion.

Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, 46

Zakaria Al-Zubaidi is one of the founders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank, and served as the group's leader in the city of Jenin during the second Al-Aqsa Intifada - an uprising against Israeli occupation from 2000-2005.

Israeli forces pursued Al-Zubaidi for nine years. Both his mother and brother were killed during an attempt to apprehend him in 2002, when Israeli launched a bloody offensive on the Jenin camp.

He was the target of six attempted assassinations and his house in the Jenin camp was demolished three times.

Zubeidi's trial is ongoing and he has yet to be formally acquitted, convicted or sentenced.

Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri, 49

Yaaqoub Mahmoud Qadri was first arrested during the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993) when he was only 15 years old, and then again four times after that.

In 1996, Qadri – nicknamed Gawadra – was allegedly preparing to carry out an attack against Israeli forces before he was arrested by Palestinian security services and detained for five months. At the beginning of the second intifada, he joined the ranks of the Palestinian movement Saraya Al-Quds.

He was arrested by Israel in 2003 tortured and sentenced to life in prison in 2004.

Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, 46

Mahmoud Arda was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to four years in prison for "participating in the activities" during the first Intifada. He spent 41 months in prison before he was released in 1996, after the Oslo Accords. He was arrested again that same year after eight months.

Arda was sentenced to life imprisonment, in addition to fifteen years, on charges of allegedly belonging to the Islamic Jihad movement. He was also accused of participating in military operations that led to the killing of Israeli soldiers.

Muhammad Arda, 39

Muhammad Arda was arrested by Israeli forces in May 2002, after he was captured in Ramallah in the West Bank.

He was sentenced to life on charges of allegedly belonging to Al-Quds Brigades and reportedly participating in military operations against Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

Ayham Nayef Kamamji, 35

Ayham Kamamji was 17 when he joined Palestinian movements against Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly kidnapping and killing an Israeli settler.

Israeli forces began pursuing him in 2003 . He managed to escape prison in 2004 before being captured by Palestinian security services, the ranks of which he later joined. He was however still allegedly an active member in the resistance movements.

He was detained again after the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli settler.

Kamamji allegedly joined the ranks of different groups since the age of 17, including Islamic Jihad, the Fatah movement and Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades.

Monadel Yacoub Nafe'at, 26

Monadel Yacoub Nafe'at was arrested by Israeli forces in 2019 and was, until now, detained without charge.

He had spent more than six years in the Israeli prisons on the count of several arrests, most of which were under administrative detention.

Administrative detention is legal under international law and rights groups have repeatedly slammed Israel for applying it regularly against Palestinians.