Protesters hold a Palestinian flag and a spoon, which has become a symbol celebrating the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped Gilboa prison. 10 September, 2021. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Early in the morning of 18 September, Israeli occupation forces announced the capture of the last two Palestinian prisoners who escaped the maximum security Gilboa prison earlier this month.
Ayham Nayef Kammaji and Munadel Nufayat were reportedly captured in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank.
The arrest of the two escapees brings to a close a massive two-week manhunt that cost Tel Aviv between 10 to 20 million NIS per day, according to Israeli security officials.
Hebrew media reports indicate an exchange of gunfire ensued once occupation forces stormed Jenin, with Fatah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters confronting the Israeli troops.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas warned occupation authorities against raiding Jenin, saying via statement: “We warn the Israeli occupation against committing any aggression on our families in Jenin, which is the stronghold of resistance in the occupied West Bank.”
Hamas added: “Our people will stand united in support for our people in Jenin.”
Zakaria Zubaidi, Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, Muhammad Qasim Ardah, Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri, Ayham Nayef Kammaji and Munadel Nufayat all staged a daring escape from Gilboa prison on 6 September, doing so by digging a tunnel below the maximum security facility.
While all of them initially evaded capture, they were eventually caught in pairs in different areas of the occupied territories.
During the massive two week manhunt Israeli forces bombed the occupied Gaza Strip, arrested over a dozen relatives of the escapees, raided homes across the West Bank and severely limited the liberties of prisoners in the country.
Tensions have also increased since the family of Zakaria Zubaidi reported that he was fighting for his life in an intensive care unit after Israeli police used extreme torture on him.
Human rights groups have also raised concerns about the well-being of the escapees.
Earlier this month, Hamas warned occupation authorities against any attempt to harm the six escapees, saying that any future prisoner exchange deal with Tel Aviv will be dependent upon their liberation.