[Sippenhaft] Israel arrests more family members of Palestinian prison escapees

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  September 10, 2021

Sister and two brothers of alleged prison break mastermind arrested as anger spreads over punitive measures imposed on prisoners.

Israel has arrested more relatives of a group of Palestinians who escaped from a West Bank jail on Monday, stepping up what campaigners have branded a wave of “collective punishment” in the wake of the embarrassing security incident.

A massive manhunt has been underway in the occupied West Bank after six Palestinian prisoners – including five members of the Islamic Jihad group – managed to tunnel out of the supposedly high security Gilboa prison.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club said that two brothers and a sister of Mahmud Ardah, who is suspected of planning the escape, were arrested on Friday morning in the town of Arraba, near Jenin.

Other relatives of the prisoners – who all originate from Jenin – were also arrested on Wednesday, the group said.

Palestinian factions and activists had called for a “day of rage” on Friday to support the prisoners.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that Palestinian factions reject the Israeli “policy of harassment and Israeli violations against [the prisoners].”

“What is required is a large popular rally in all [Palestinian] governorates, including Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in support of the prisoners… The issue of prisoners unites the Palestinian people in all areas of their presence,” Abu Youssef said.

On Wednesday evening, the Palestinian Red Cross told families of Palestinian prisoners that all prison visits in September had been cancelled by the Israel Prison Service and that no new visits could be booked.

In several towns in the West Bank, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and sound grenades at Palestinian protestors, some of whom had molotov cocktails, after news emerged of tension inside Israeli prisons. Some social media posts by prisoners from inside the jail warned that Katziot prison was “burning”.

Local media reported that Palestinians had fired at Israeli forces near Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah, on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Palestinian protests erupted in Al-Aroub and Al-Fawar refugee camps, and Dora town in Hebron/Al-Khalil. Palestinian News Agency Wafa reported that Israeli forces got onto the rooves of Palestinian houses in these areas and shot stun grenades and tear gas at the protestors.

Other protests were seen in al-Khadr town in the city of Bethlehem, while in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, a locally-made grenade was thrown at the Israeli checkpoint of al-Jalameh, local media said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said nearly 100 Palestinians were injured on Wednesday evening in the towns across the Nablus and Hebron/Al-Khalil governorates and four were injured in occupied East Jerusalem.