Israeli forces yesterday captured two more of the six Palestinian fighters who escaped from a maximum security jail this week, a police spokesperson said.
The two men were found in a truck parking lot in an Arab village in northern Israel, near the city of Nazareth, where two other escapees were captured hours earlier. Their prison break on Monday, through a hole in their prison cell floor, delighted Palestinians and embarrassed Israel.
Footage distributed by Israel Police showed officers leading the two men, blindfold and handcuffed, into a police vehicle as a search for two more inmates who are still at large continued. The six men have either been convicted or are suspected of planning or carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis. Mohamed al-Arda, brother of Mahmoud al-Arda, a member of the Islamic Jihad group who escaped and was captured on Friday, said it appeared that though the actual prison break was meticulously planned, its next stages were lacking. “There was no back-up from the inside nor co-ordination with the outside,” al-Arda said.
Though saddened by his brother’s capture, he said he was happy about what he described as a blow to enemy morale. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said a suspicious villager had tipped off police when he was approached by haggard-looking men who had asked for food and a ride, while military trackers closed in on the men’s escape routes.
The escape and subsequent capture has raised tension in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. After night fell yesterday, Palestinian fighters fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The Israeli military said it was intercepted. There were no immediate reports of casualties. One of the men captured yesterday was Zakaria Zubeidi, a high-profile former commander of the Fatah group’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank city of Jenin during the second Palestinian uprising.
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