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Zubeidi, three other Gilboa fugitives caught

CM 11/09/2021

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Four of the fugitives who escaped from Gilboa Prison last week were re-arrested by Israel Police’s Counterterrorism Unit early Saturday morning in northern Israel.
Zakaria Zubeidi and Mahmoud Ardah were found in a parking lot in the village of Umm el-Ghanam hours after Yakoub Mohammed Qadri and Mohammed Ardah were located in Nazareth. Munadil Nafayat and Iham Kahamji remain at large.
Israel Police said that Zubeidi and Ardah were found hiding under the wheel of a truck.
According to reports, Qadri and Mohammed Ardah were located after a Nazareth resident told police that he had seen two men digging through the trash searching for food.
The family of the Nazareth resident who reportedly told police of the fugitives has received death threats and subsequently denied involvement in the capture, according to Ynet.
“It is a lie – we didn’t report anything, we were at a wedding,” the family told Ynet. “We want to help the state but we were not involved in this incident,” they added.
Despite the death threats received by the family, no police officers were seen near their home to secure their safety, Ynet reported. A bounty, worth “huge sums of money,” has been placed on their heads by Palestinian businessmen, according to Palestinian media.
“I saw them, they looked scared, hungry and humiliated,” an Umm el-Ghanam resident told Ynet. “A helicopter and a drone flew overhead all night long, we didn’t get any sleep due to the amount of noise in the village,” added the Umm el-Ghanam resident.
Another resident told Ynet said Zubeidi and Ardah “did not resist” as police officers arrested them.
According to reports, Qadiri and Mohammed al-Arida were located after a resident of Nazareth told police that he had seen two men digging through the trash searching for food.
In addition to the reports by citizens to police, the fugitives were captured by the Counterterrorism Unit of the police as well as IDF trackers from the Mirol reserve unit. 
The unit, which was formed following the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in 2014, was able to identify the footprints of the fugitives as well as a pack of cigarettes and a can of soda at around 10.30PM and then found the route that Zubeidi and al-Arida took to the parking lot in Umm el-Ghanam.
Defense establishment sources speculated on Saturday that it is increasingly likely the two remaining escapees have split up, according to Israeli media.
The sources also reportedly stated one of them is still in Israel, while the other has possibly crossed the border into the West Bank.
Two prisoners that escaped from Gilboa prison caught in Nazareth (Video Credit: Telegram Security News)
Five escapees were identified as Munadil Nafayat, Iham Kahamji, Yakoub Mohammed Qadri and brothers Mahmoud and Mohammed Ardah. They are all members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and from towns near Jenin.
The sixth, Zakaria Zubeidi, was a prominent leader in Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades during the Second Intifada. He was later granted amnesty but was arrested again in 2019.
They escaped from Gilboa Prison, some 30 kilometers away, on Monday. Though security forces initially thought that they were being helped following their escape, they now believe that the fugitives did not have any outside assistance.
Following their arrest, they were transferred to the Shin Bet internal security agency for additional questioning.
Shortly after the arrest of Qadiri and Mohammed Ardah, thousands of Palestinians violently protested across the West Bank and clashed with IDF troops. A rocket was also launched from the Gaza Strip and was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. IDF responded with an airstrike against a Hamas military infrastructure.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Friday that Israel had a lead on the locations of the six fugitives and that there was “intelligence and operational leads” that would allow security forces to catch them.
“Ultimately, we will get our hands on the people who escaped,” Gantz said during a visit to the Salem military base in the northern West Bank’s Jezreel Valley. “Determined work is being carried out, with proper collaboration between the different security branches and we will continue this activity and ensure security for this area.”
“I hope the day ends quietly, but in any case, the IDF is prepared for any development,” he said adding that Israel is working alongside the Palestinian Authority to find the escapees.
Gantz was accompanied by the Head of the IDF’s Operation’s Division Maj.-Gen. Oded Basiuk, Head of the Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs as well as representatives from the Shin Bet, Border Police, Israel Police, and Israel Prison Services. 
“We have to understand we’re talking about six people out of millions living here,” Gantz added. “We have to be able to handle these six and those who assisted them without disturbing the balance.”

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Salem IDF base in the Jezreel Valley, September 10, 2021. (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY) Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Salem IDF base in the Jezreel Valley, September 10, 2021. (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Israeli security forces were placed on high alert ahead of a planned “day of rage” in solidarity with the six fugitives and hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces overnight on Friday in some ten centers in the West Bank.
Earlier on Friday Palestinian media reported that the IDF troops arrested five family members of the escaped Gilboa prisoners, including Raafat Gawadra and Youssef Qadri, the brother of escaped prisoner Yaquob Qadiri.
On Wednesday, soldiers arrested the father of escaped prisoner Munadel Enfayat after searching his home.
Soldiers also raided the town of Arrabe and searched several houses. Two of the fugitives, brothers Mahmoud and Mohammed Ardah, also members of Islamic Jihad, hail from the town. The soldiers arrested three members of the Ardah family, the sources said.
The Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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