Last two Palestinian prison escapees detained overnight by Israeli army

Rosie Scammell

The National  /  September 19, 2021

Fugitives held after their capture in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Two Palestinians who broke out of a high-security prison were detained overnight, the Israeli military said on Sunday, ending a massive manhunt following the earlier capture of four fellow escapees.

The two fugitives were caught in the city of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, which lies less than 15km (nine miles) from the prison.

They “surrendered after being surrounded by security forces” and were detained along with two alleged collaborators, the military said in a statement.

Israeli police named the escapees as Munadel Infeiat and Ayham Kamamji and said they had been hiding out at a house.

The latter’s father, Fouad Kamamji, told AP news agency that his son called and said he had decided to surrender “in order not to endanger the house owners.”

The breakout from Gilboa prison in northern Israel proved deeply embarrassing for the Israeli security establishment.

The vast operation to track them down, which involved hundreds of additional checkpoints, was hailed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as “impressive, sophisticated and quick”.

The six escapees have been celebrated as heroes by Palestinians, who have lauded their audacious plot to tunnel their way out of a cell.

Spoons have become a symbol of Palestinian resistance, after reports they were used by the prisoners to dig a hole under a sink.

A lawyer for Mahmud Abdullah Ardah, one of the four prisoners recaptured on September 10, said the group started to bore through the cell floor in December.

They used spoons, plates and a kettle handle, lawyer Roslan Mahajana told AFP news agency.