Israel arrests two Palestinian prisoners who dig a tunnel to escape from prison

Israeli police arrested two of the six inmates who escaped from prison in northern Israel earlier this week.

Two prisoners who escaped from prison were recaptured by Israeli police on September 10 in the town of Nazareth, Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida, both from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Mahmoud al-Arida is believed to be the leader of the escape tunnel. Mahmoud al-Arida’s brother Mohammed is in hiding.

Police said the two inmates did not resist when arrested after a helicopter chase. Video on social media shows Israeli police escorting a man in jeans and a blue T-shirt to a vehicle. The man calmly identified himself as Qadiri and answered “yes” when asked if he was one of the prisoners who escaped.

Local media reported that residents of the town of Nazareth, which has a large Arab population, alerted police after spotting two men rummaging through trash cans, apparently looking for food.

Israeli police dispatched forces to arrest these two people, then transferred them to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning in order to find information that could help catch the remaining four escaped prisoners.

Yaquob Qadiri (left) and Mahmoud al-Arida (right) after being arrested by Israeli police in the town of Nazareth on September 10.  Photo: Israeli police.

Yaquob Qadiri (left) and Mahmoud al-Arida (right) after being arrested by Israeli police in the town of Nazareth on September 10. Photo: Israeli police.

Al-Arida is believed to be a senior member of the PIJ group, and was sentenced to life in prison for what Israel considers a terrorist act, including attacks that killed Israeli soldiers.

Qadiri was also sentenced to life in prison for acts of terrorism, including the 2004 murder of an Israeli. Al-Arida and Qadiri are suspected of participating in another escape attempt at Gilboa prison in 2014.

Six Palestinian prisoners dig a tunnel to escape from Gilboa prison on September 6, an event that is considered one of the worst prison escapes in Israeli history. The Israel Defense Forces have detained several relatives of the escaped prisoners in recent days, including five who live in villages near the city of Jenin in the West Bank.

Israeli authorities believe that some of the prisoners who escaped from prison tried to enter the Palestinian-controlled area of ​​the West Bank, while the rest remained in the Israeli-controlled area. Five of the six escaped prisoners were members of the PIJ, the other being Zakaria Zubeidi, a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement.

Israel’s Security Minister Omer Barlev said on September 9 that a committee had been established to investigate violations at Gilboa prison that led to six inmates’ escapes, including failing to learn lessons from the 2014 prison break. was left empty and the warden fell asleep.

The Israel Prisons Authority said the six inmates dug a tunnel from the bathtub in their cell, then went through the drainage system to escape.

Following the 2014 Gilboa prison break-out by digging a tunnel under the toilet, the Israel Prisons Authority reinforced the area with concrete and metal and replaced the toilet. However, the area under the shower was not reinforced and the group of 6 prisoners took advantage of this weakness to dig a tunnel to escape.

The exit to the tunnel was a few meters away from a watchtower, but it was vacant due to the prison’s lack of manpower. A camera was pointed at the hatch, but no guards were monitoring the surveillance system. At a nearby watchtower, the warden got up when he heard a noise, but saw nothing, and went back to sleep.

Nguyen Tien (Follow Times of Israel)

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