Last 2 Palestinian Escapees Have Been Recaptured
The last two Palestinian prisoners who escaped from a maximum-security prison in Gilboa have been captured, Israel says. They had been on the hunt for more than 10 days after the jailbreak embarrassed Israel’s security establishment but delighted Palestinians who saw the escaped detainees as heroes in the struggle for Palestinian statehood.
Israeli police identified the men as Ayham Nayef Kamamji and Munadel Yacoub Infai’at. Kamamji, 35, was arrested in 2006 and is serving a life sentence, and Infai’at, 26, was arrested without being charged with a crime under Israel’s administrative detention.
The Israeli army said the men turned themselves in “after being surrounded by security forces” acting on intelligence. Speaking to the media, Fouad Kamamji said he received a phone call from his son at 1:45 am informing him that he was surrounded by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin and that he was turning himself in “for the safety of the people I’m staying in”.
Meanwhile, the family of Munadel Infai’at, from the village of Ya’bad in Jenin, said in a live TV interview that the family found out about the arrest of his son through media at 2:30 am.
It is expected that Ayham Kamamji and Munadel Infai’at appear before the court in Nazareth later on Sunday, where their detention order will most likely be extended.
The four previously captured men are being held and interrogated in Jalama. On Friday, Mahmoud Abdullah al-Ardah, and Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri were captured on the southern outskirts of Nazareth, and on Saturday, Zakaria Zubeidi, and Mohammed al-Ardah, were arrested nearby in the Palestinian village of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam.
The escape precipitated multiple support protests from Palestinians across the country, and Palestinian citizens of Israel planned protests around the court hearing on Sunday. According to Al Jazeera, Hamas political party has announced that the “leadership of the resistance is working to complete an honorable [prisoner] exchange deal for our prisoners and our people, of which the six prisoners will be among its heroes”.
Additionally, a hunger strike of 1,340 Palestinian prisoners was set to start on Friday 17 but later canceled “after Israel agreed to halt punitive measures imposed on inmates in the aftermath of the Gilboa prison break last week”.
Nevertheless, inmates seem ready to take the step of launching a hunger strike due to the Israel Prison Service’s intransigence and violent repression.
Detentions amid mass arrest campaign
The last two prisoners have been recaptured, while also Israeli forces have detained dozens of Palestinians. There have been mass arrests in response to the high-security jail escape earlier this month in Gilboa.
According to figures from the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department and the Palestinian prisoners’ organization Addameer, more than 100 Palestinians have been arrested since Gilboa’s prison break in northern Israel on September 6. “We have documented an average of 14 arrests per day in the occupied West Bank since the men escaped,” Milena Ansari from Addameer told.
“This does not include the Palestinians arrested within Israel.”
While hunting the missing detainees down, Israeli forces have been acting against family members of the escapees in the Jenin area, arresting and interrogating them. The raids have also focused on Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and surrounding villages.
Not only have been adults the ones to suffer these campaigns, but it is reported that some Palestinian children have been swept up such as thirteen-year-old Mustafa Amira, from the town of Nilin near Ramallah.
His father Khalil Amira said Mustafa and his cousin Muhammad, 15, were arrested and beaten by about 10 Israeli soldiers and held in detention overnight by the Israeli police without being given food or water. Sadly, this is not the only case and hospitals often receive children who have been beaten and abused by Israeli security forces.
Students, Palestinian organizations and their employees, agricultural and health committees, human rights groups, etc. have been raided or detained by the Israeli authorities in recent days. On Wednesday 15, Israeli soldiers raided the headquarters of the General Trade Union of Workers in Services and Entrepreneurship Sector in Ramallah, seizing several computer hard discs and documents.
The Defence for Children International- Palestine, the Health Work Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees were also assaulted, with employees arrested, computers and documents seized, and some of the offices forcibly closed for six months.