Israeli police say two more Palestinian prison escapees caught

Israeli police on Saturday said they arrested four of the six Palestinians who broke out of a maximum-security prison this week.

The arrests moved Israel closer to closing an embarrassing episode that exposed deep flaws in its prison system and turned the fugitive prisoners into Palestinian heroes.

Two people captured were identified as Zakaria Zubeidi and Mahmoud al-Arida. Both were reportedly found at a truck garage in northern Israel. Israeli authorities were quoted by news reports as saying that Zubeidi tried to resist arrest.

Early on Saturday, police said they caught the two men in the Arab town of Umm al-Ghanam. Zubeidi was a leader during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.

While he has been linked to attacks on Israelis, he also was well known for giving frequent media interviews and for a friendship he once had with an Israeli woman. Zubeidi over the years received amnesty and taken college courses and was active in a West Bank theatre movement before he was re-arrested in 2019 on suspicions of involvement in attacks.

Photos released by police showed Zubeidi, handcuffed and wearing a white head band, being led away by two police officers.

According to Israeli media reports, local residents in both towns had turned in the prisoners.

‘Solving the puzzle’

In a statement, police said that Israeli forces, including the military, have been working “around the clock” to catch the fugitives.

“All of the forces were deployed at full strength, searched in open areas, collected every piece of information until they succeeded in solving the puzzle to locate these two fugitivies,” including Zubeidi, police said. The search for the final two prisoners was continuing.

On Friday, authorities said they caught the first two of six Palestinian escapees. In a statement, a police spokeswoman said the two were captured on Mount Precipice, a Christian holy site near Nazareth.

The two men captured were members of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, Israeli media reported.

Police did not provide their identities. Video on social media showed Israeli officers putting two men into the back of separate police vehicles.

Israel launched a massive manhunt for the six prisoners who made a daring jailbreak on Monday from the high-security Gilboa prison through a tunnel dug beneath a sink in a cell.

Earlier on Friday, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem took to the streets in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and protested against their punishment.


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