Israeli Troops Capture Last Two of Six Escaped Palestinian Political Prisoners

12:00 Sep 18 2021 Jenin

Ayham Kamamji and Munadel Enfei’at. Published by IMEMC News

Israeli security forces during the manhunt for escaped Palestinian prisoners Credit: Rami Shllush. Published by Haaretz

Israeli security forces during manhunt for escaped Palestinian prisoners. Credit: Gil Eliahu. Published by Haaretz

Protesters supporting the escaped Palestinian prisoners, Nazareth. Credit: Rami Shllush. Published by Haaretz

by IMEMC News
Sep 19, 2021

The last two of the six Palestinian political prisoners who escaped last week from Gilboa Prison were captured Saturday in Eastern Neighborhood in Jenin city, in the northern part of the West Bank.

Ayham Kamamji and Munadel Enfei’at turned themselves in when Israeli forces invaded Jenin and surrounded the building they were staying in.

Ayham’s father, Fuad Kamanji, stated that his son phoned him from the home where he was seeking shelter, and told him that the soldiers are surrounding the property and that he intends to peacefully surrender to avoid giving the soldiers the change to harm the family.

The father stated that the soldiers frequently invaded his homes and the homes of many relatives since his son was able to escape from Gilboa’ prison, and added that he was also repeatedly interrogated at the nearby Salem military base.

The two detainees had remained at large for nearly two weeks after escaping with four other prisoners from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.

The other four: Zakaria Zubeidi, Mahmoud Ardah, Mohammed Qadri and Mohammed Ardah, were captured last Saturday before dawn near Nazareth in central Israel.

The four were badly beaten by the Israeli soldiers during their capture. They were forced to endure multiple days of interrogation, and were tortured with electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and numerous beatings to the face and head. Three days after their capture, when they were finally allowed access to their lawyers, two of the men were immediately taken to the hospital with severe injuries sustained during the interrogation.

The Israeli military launched a massive invasion of Jenin on Saturday night, after receiving a tip from an unknown source that the two men were in the city.

When the Israeli military invaded Jenin, they were met by armed Palestinian resistance fighters, as well as teenagers who threw stones at the invading army. One Palestinian was shot by Israeli forces and taken to the hospital. None of the invading Israeli soldiers were injured.

According to the Israeli military, the men’s location was found by the Shin Bet Israeli intelligence service.

West Bank Palestinians Surprised as Jailbreakers' Manhunt Ends in Relative Ease

Jenin residents were surprised by the quiet arrest, but fellow prisoner say the fugitives became overly confident and careless

by Jack Khoury for Haaretz
Sep 19, 2021

Residents of Jenin are used to waking up at night to the sound of shooting and explosions when an arrest takes place in their city or in the adjacent refugee camp. But on Sundayת they slept soundly through the night only to be wakened by the surprising news that two prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison were arrested in the city – with barely any resistance.

Many in the West Bank were afraid during the past two weeks that they would be forced to bear the consequences of the escape of the prisoners, with Israeli security forces holding extensive searches for them. The same was true in Jenin. Since the escape there has been intensive movement of Israeli security forces on the perimeter of the city and in the surrounding villages.

In recent days residents reported that forces in the city and the refugee camp had been reinforced and that activity in the area had intensified. “During the night, military vehicles entered from several directions, so that it was difficult to understand where they would focus their activity. It was clear there was an incident, but we didn’t know exactly where,” said a relative of Iham Kahamji, one of the prisoners who was recaptured on Sunday.

Kahamji and fellow prisoner Munadil Nafayat hid together in a house in the city during the past few days, according to security service sources. After receiving intelligence about the location of the two men, forces advanced toward the refugee camp and through the main roads leading to the safe house to prevent any interference with the arrest. Police Anti-Terror Unit forces, known as Yamam, surrounded the house, and the prisoners surrendered without confrontation.

On Sunday, Iham’s father, Fuad Kahamji, said in an interview with Al-Shams Radio that his son had contacted him at around 2 A.M. Kahamji told his father that he decided to hand himself over in order to prevent an attack against the residents of the house. “I was stunned that he was in Jenin. I thought he was already in Gaza or in Lebanon after two weeks. But it’s his decision and I respect it,” he said.

Many Palestinians came to the prisoners’ homes on Sunday morning to show their support; some raised questions about the prisoners’ actions after the escape. A relative of Kahamji said that one of the questions bothering many in Jenin is why the prisoners did not flee to the refugee camp. Located just a few minutes’ drive from the place where they were hiding, the camp would have been a safer location for them.

The arrest of the prisoners became the news of the day in Gilboa Prison, too. Prisoners within the jail and activists outside came to the conclusion that the clue that led to the arrest came when the fugitives reached out to their families. “That’s the information that was gathered among the prisoners, including the prisoners’ leadership,” said an activist who spoke to inmates in the jail in the past hours. “It’s known that there’s external communication, and they heard from several sources that in the past week the two men, Nafayat in particular, were careless and made several phone calls to immediate family members, including brothers and cousins. It was clear that using electronics would be a way to trap them, and they fell for it. It seems the fact that they were already in the Jenin area and a week to 10 days had passed since they escaped, made them overconfident.”

A high-ranking member of Hamas said on Sunday that “the capture of the two prisoners does not affect the morale and determination of the Palestinians to free the prisoners and turns the prisoners issue into a top-priority strategic matter.”

The Gaza Prisoner’s Association released an initial statement saying that the capture of the six escapees does not negate the importance of their jailbreak. The Islamic Jihad in Jenin has yet to comment on the reports.
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