Escape to Jenin

Jenin is the centre of resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israeli bombs have razed Jenin to the ground on a number of occasions. But the people of Jenin keep coming back …

Here is the story of a great escape to Jenin by six Palestinians from a high security Israeli military prison, Gilboa jail. Israeli guards slept through the escape.

Escape tunnel from Gilboa jail

Palestinians vow to fight Israeli forces if they raid Jenin camp

Palestinian gunmen say they will repel Israeli troops if they enter the refugee camp in search of six men who escaped from an Israeli jail.

There have been numerous clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank in recent weeks [File: Alaa Badarneh/EPA]
There have been numerous clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank in recent weeks [File: Alaa Badarneh/EPA]

Jenin Refugee Camp, Occupied West Bank – Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said they will fight Israeli forces if they enter the Jenin refugee camp in search of six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from a high-security Israeli prison.

Early on Wednesday, Israeli soldiers with dogs scoured gaps in Israel’s separation wall near the Palestinian town of Yaabad near Jenin, while reconnaissance aircraft flew above.

Tensions were high in the Jenin area as gunfire reverberated throughout the camp on Tuesday night and Palestinian fighters promised to act if Israeli forces harmed the escapees or other Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

It is unclear where the six Palestinians are hiding. The men were believed to have been headed for Jenin, where their families are based, and where the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority wields little control. Accident at Work? We are Here to Help Ad by See More

Hundreds of Israeli security forces and intelligence agents on Wednesday continued the search for the six Palestinian prisoners who tunnelled out of Gilboa jail on Monday.

Meanwhile, dozens of checkpoints were erected between the West Bank and Israel, as Israeli authorities feared armed Palestinians might attack Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank or within Israel.

‘Expect them any time’

Jamal Zubeidi, 65, the uncle of one of the prisoners, said the family expected Israeli soldiers to invade the camp at any time.

“We don’t know when they will come but we expect them any time and we are prepared,” Zubeidi told Al Jazeera. “Our family has suffered from the Israeli occupation for many years.”

The escapees included Zakariya Zubeidi, 46, a former Fatah party leader in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, as well as five Palestinian Islamic Jihad members.

Islamic Jihad also warned Israel against harming the six men.

‘Not scared’

Despite the tense atmosphere at the Jenin refugee camp, many young men cheered the escape of the six prisoners, as well as the possibility of standing up to Israeli forces if they enter the camp.

“The guys are not scared. They are fighting for their rights,” Noor Saadi, 27, who previously spent two years in an Israeli jail, told Al Jazeera.

Since the stunning prisoner escape, the Israel Prison Service has broken up groups of Islamic Jihad members in various prisons.

It also evacuated 90 Palestinian prisoners out of a total of 360 held in Gilboa, as the facility undergoes an intensive inspection.

Women in Jenin refugee camp resist the Israeli military occupation

Israel said apprehending the six men was a matter of urgency, not only to prevent potential attacks, but also because their escape emboldened gunmen from various factions to confront the Israeli militarily.

Since the escape, Israeli soldiers have raided several villages near Jenin, confiscating film from surveillance cameras and checking the identities of car occupants. Israeli soldiers have also increased their presence in public places in Israel.

Raiding Palestinian villages

Three Palestinians from the village of Noura in northern Israel were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of aiding the prisoners in their escape.

According to Israel, one of the escapees was captured by surveillance cameras in the town’s mosque.

Al Jazeera witnessed Israeli troops invading the village of Arrabunah, southwest of Jenin, on Tuesday night where soldiers confiscated footage from surveillance cameras before groups of young Palestinians threw stones at them. Shortly afterwards, the soldiers withdrew.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers positioned themselves on the hills overlooking the village of Deir Ghazzalah, which lies near the Israeli separation wall between the northern West Bank and Israel. A surveillance drone hovered over the village at night.

In recent weeks, there have been numerous clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in Jenin and Beita.

Two weeks ago, at least four Palestinian men were shot dead during confrontations with the Israeli army in the Jenin refugee camp during a raid by Israeli special forces to arrest a wanted Palestinian man.

Witnesses said a group of Palestinians engaged in clashes with members from the Israeli police’s Musta’ribeen – an undercover unit made up of Israelis disguised as Palestinians.

The government made a calculated decision to force the men to surrender by attacking the refugee camps in Jenin. This is a common tactic by occupation forces. The men then had to decide whether their freedom was worth the deaths all the families and friends in the camps.

Last two escaped Palestinian prisoners surrender to Israel forces

Police say the two men, who escaped on September 6, were found in an eastern district of Jenin city.

A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]
A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

19 Sep 2021

Israel says it captured the last two Palestinian prisoners who escaped from a maximum-security prison more than 10 days ago.

The jailbreak embarrassed Israel’s security establishment but delighted Palestinians who see members of armed groups jailed by Israel as heroes in the struggle for Palestinian statehood.

Fouad Kamamji, father of prisoner Ayham Kamamji who was rearrested on Sunday at dawn, told local TV: “He [Ayham] risked his life, got out, and managed to get to Jenin – despite all the military reinforcements, the army and all the technology that Israel owns, he managed to get to Jenin” and “hold out for two weeks.”

The men, the last of the six who escaped Gilboa prison on September 6, were found in the eastern district of Jenin city, the police announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Israeli police identified the men as Ayham Nayef Kamamji and Munadel Yacoub Infai’at. Kamamji, 35, was arrested in 2006 and is serving a life sentence, and Infai’at, 26, was arrested in 2019, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

Fouad Kamamji said he received a phone call from his son at 1:45am informing him that he was surrounded by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin.

“For the safety of the people I’m staying in, I am turning myself in,” Ayham reportedly told his father, who said he was shocked by the call. “I told him: May God keep you safe.”

Fouad added he believes the home that provided Ayham with shelter in represents “real patriotism” and the essence of the Palestinian people.

The Israeli army said the men turned themselves in “after being surrounded by security forces” acting on intelligence.

Meanwhile, family of Munadel Infai’at, from the village of Ya’bad in Jenin, said in a live TV interview that the family found out about the arrest of his son through media at 2:30am.

His mother described Munadel’s rearrest as a “disaster” and said the family had no prior knowledge of him being in Jenin.

“I hold Israel responsible – if anything happens to my son – they will be held responsible,” she said.

Palestinians in Jenin clashed with Israeli troops as they raided the city early on Sunday, residents said. The Israeli military said clashes broke out as the forces withdrew, with residents hurling rocks and explosives at troops who responded with live fire.

At a court hearing in Nazareth on Sunday, Israeli authorities once again extended their detention for another ten days to continue the interrogation process where they are being held at Jalama Detention Center near Haifa.

Meanwhile, prisoners Ayham Kamamji and Munadel Infai’at are expected to appear before the court in Nazareth later on Sunday, where it is expected that their detention order will be extended.

The six Palestinians broke out of the maximum-security Israeli prison by digging a tunnel under a sink in their cell, using spoons, plates and even the handle of a kettle.

Their lawyers say the men began work on the tunnel last December.

The bold escape dominated newscasts for days and sparked heavy criticism of Israel’s prison service.

Palestinians have protested in support of the men across the country, and Palestinian citizens of Israel planned protests around the court hearing on Sunday.

In a short statement, the Hamas political party saluted the rearrested prisoners, and said the “leadership of the resistance is working to complete an honorable [prisoner] exchange deal for our prisoners and our people, of which the six prisoners will be among its heroes.”

Qaddura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, said the six prisoners “restored the unity of the Palestinian street”.

He added that Palestinian prisoners  “have become more aware of their ability to influence the national situation.”

Source: News Agencies

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