Israeli forces capture two Palestinian escapees days after prison break

Six detainees escaped from a high-security prison on Monday

Israeli forces on Friday captured two of the six Palestinians who escaped from a high-security prison this week, sparking a massive manhunt across Israel and the occupied West Bank.

“Police officers from the northern brigade arrested two of the escaped prisoners in Mount Precipice in Nazareth” in northern Israel, authorities said in a statement.

The two men captured were Islamic Jihad members and police were tipped off by Nazareth residents who the men had asked for food, Israeli media reported. Police did not provide their identities.

The detainees' predawn escape on Monday - achieved by digging a tunnel in a cell - has shocked Israel and sparked celebrations among Palestinians.

A vast search focused mainly on Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank, which is both home to most of the escapees and close to Gilboa prison.

Video on social media showed Israeli officers putting two men in the back of separate police vehicles. The two men did not appear to resist arrest.

The six escapees have either been convicted or are suspected of planning or carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis. Israel has vowed to capture all of the men and officials say they will investigate any lapses that allowed for their escape.

Palestinians have protested in support of the men across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, seeing them as heroes in their struggle for statehood in territory Israel captured in the 1967 war.

The prison the men escaped from, about 4 kilometres from the boundary with the occupied West Bank, is one of the highest-security jails in Israel.

One of the escapees is Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank city of Jenin who once received a pardon from Israel. Zubeidi was rearrested by Israel in 2019 after his alleged involvement in new shooting attacks.

Updated: September 10th 2021, 10:42 PM