Israeli forces arrested the last two of six Palestinian activists who escaped from an Israeli maximum security prison nearly two weeks ago on Sunday in an escape that embarrassed Israel’s security establishment but elated the Palestinians.
The two members of the militant Islamic Jihad group were apprehended before dawn at a house in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said.
Palestinians see members of armed groups imprisoned by Israel as heroes in the struggle for statehood in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territory captured by Israel in the Middle East War of 1967. Israel views them as terrorists.
An Israeli police spokeswoman identified the men as Ayham Nayef Kamamji and Munadel Yacoub Infeiat. Kamamji, 35, was arrested in 2006 and is serving a life sentence, and Infeiat, 26, was arrested in 2019, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.
The other four were captured in pairs a week ago near the Arab city of Nazareth in northern Israel. All six have been convicted or are suspected of planning or carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis.
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Palestinians in Jenin clashed with Israeli troops as they attacked the city early Sunday, residents said. Kamamji and Infeiat surrendered after being surrounded by Israeli forces, and two other Palestinians were arrested for assisting them, the IDF said.
All four have been transferred for questioning, the military said in a statement. Palestinians threw stones and explosives at Israeli troops and fired live ammunition as the troops exited the city, the army added.
There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited autonomy in the West Bank and coordinates security in the territory with Israel.
The six Palestinians who freed themselves on September 6 dug a hole in their prison cell. Israeli officials say they will investigate any breach that allowed their escape.
Palestinians demonstrated in support of the men in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Members of Israel’s Arab minority, who often identify themselves as Palestinians, have also shown support for the men, with further protests scheduled for later Sunday.