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Kohavi: Plans are ready should we need to operate in Jenin

CM 16/09/2021

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As the manhunt for the remaining fugitives who escaped from Gilboa prison last week continues, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi warned that the military has plans ready to operate inside the West Bank city of Jenin to catch the last two wanted men.
“There is the possibility and the plans for it also exist,” Kochavi told the N12 news site, referring to the possibility of an extensive military operation in the area of Jenin to catch the last two men.
Kohavi was optimistic about catching them, saying that it didn’t matter how long “even if it took several months.”

Like the chief of staff, troops in the field feel like they are advancing in the search for the last two men.
“We have a good feeling that we are advancing in finding the last two,” Second-Lieutenant M, squad commander in the 636 combat intelligence collection unit, told The Jerusalem Post.
“We are working day and night to find them, working in all areas and following all the leads,” he added.
According to M, the search for the last two escapees on the run is more challenging since there is more territory to cover, but, he said, “we are using our intelligence capabilities and we see they are making mistakes.”
Zakaria Zubeidi and Mahmoud Ardah were found in a parking lot in the village of Umm el-Ghanam early last Saturday morning, hours after Yakoub Mohammed Qadri and Mohammed Ardah were located in Nazareth on Friday night.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at late Col. Sharon Asman's funeral, Sunday, July 4, 2021. (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at late Col. Sharon Asman’s funeral, Sunday, July 4, 2021. (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S OFFICE)

Security forces are continuing to search for Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat, both of whom are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and believed to have reached Jenin.
According to Second-Lt. M, the last two will be caught, even if they are in Jenin.
“We will do everything necessary to find them. And if I am told to enter Jenin, I will. It’s going to end in one way: they will be caught. Alive?  I don’t know. But they will be found and if they are alive, they will go back to jail.”
Media reports, citing details from the Shin Bet interrogation of the four recaptured prisoners, said that the six had approached several Arab-Israeli citizens to drive them to the city of Jenin in the West Bank, but were refused.
In a meeting with his defense attorney on Wednesday, Zubeidi said that the other fugitives had told him about the tunnel about a month before the escape and was told that it was ready a day before the escape and asked the guards if he could be moved to their cell.
“If someone forgot to lock the door, wouldn’t you escape? Zubeidi was quoted by Haaretz as telling attorney Avigdor Feldman.
According to him, the six had no plans after they got out and it was a spontaneous decision to head to the village of Nuara where they changed clothes and headed to its mosque where they were not allowed to enter or use its phone.
“I was shocked that they didn’t have any sort of plan,” Zubeidi was quoted as saying. He also reportedly wanted to reach Jenin on foot but the other fugitives were divided on whether to stay in Israel or go to the West Bank.
The mastermind of the escape, Mahmoud al-Arida, told his lawyer, Raslan Mahajna, that he was “responsible for all planning for the escape and the excavation.”
Both prisoners said they received no assistance from inside or outside the prison and according to Mahajna, the fugitives never considered heading to Jordan or Lebanon and that they “had no intention of committing a terror attack.”
“All we wanted was to be free,” Arida was quoted as telling his lawyer.
Israeli security forces have kept a high alert since the escape out of concern that Palestinians might carry out attacks.
Security forces are also concerned about a raid inside Jenin’s refugee camp, which has high support for PIJ.
Jenin has also in recent months become a focal point of Palestinian resistance against security forces, with gunfights breaking out when Israeli troops enter to carry out arrest raids.
In the interview with N12, Kohavi said that “if the scope of attacks from the city of Jenin in general or the refugee camp in particular increases, it may be inevitable for an operation in order to dismantle the terrorist cells in this area. This is also true of other places in Judea and Samaria.”
According to the report, Kohavi met with the brigade commanders in the West Bank and told them that there “is definitely a possibility” that the IDF would have to deal with the area of Jenin in a much more aggressive manner, similar to Operation Defensive Shield during the Second Intifada.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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