Israeli police on Saturday said they arrested four of the six Palestinians who broke out of a maximum-security prison in the week.
The arrests moved Israel closer to closing an embarrassing episode that exposed deep flaws in its prison system and turned the fugitive prisoners into Palestinian heroes.
Two people captured were identified as Zakaria Zubeidi and Mahmoud al-Arida. Both were reportedly found at a truck garage in northern Israel. Israeli authorities were quoted by news reports as saying that Zubeidi tried to resist arrest.
Early on Saturday, police said they caught the 2 men within the Arab town of Umm al-Ghanam. Zubeidi was a pacesetter during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.
While he has been linked to attacks on Israelis, he also was documented for giving frequent media interviews and for a friendship he once had with an Israeli woman. Zubeidi over the years received amnesty and brought college courses and was active during a West Bank theatre movement before he was re-arrested in 2019 on suspicions of involvement in attacks.
Photos released by police showed Zubeidi, handcuffed and wearing a white headband, being led away by two cops.
According to Israeli media reports, local residents in both towns had turned within the prisoners.
In a statement, police said that Israeli forces, including the military, are working “around the clock” to catch the fugitives.
“All of the forces were deployed at full strength, searched in open areas, collected each piece of data until they succeeded in solving the puzzle to locate these two fugitives,” including Zubeidi, police said. The look for the ultimate two prisoners was continuing.
On Friday, authorities said they caught the primary two of six Palestinian escapees. during a statement, a police spokeswoman said the 2 were captured on Mount Precipice, a Christian holy site near Nazareth.
The two men captured were members of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, Israeli media reported.
Police didn’t provide their identities. Video on social media showed Israeli officers putting two men into the rear of separate police vehicles.
Israel launched a huge manhunt for the six prisoners who made a daring jailbreak on Monday from the high-security Gilboa prison through a tunnel dug beneath a sink during a cell.
Earlier on Friday, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem took to the streets in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and protested against their punishment.
“The prisoners in Palestinian jails are looking for freedom. they need to measure their lives. they’re not ordinary criminals, but patriots fighting for freedom,” Muhammad Khabeisa told.
“The Israelis have put Palestinians in prison with the occupation of their land. When the Palestinians take up arms, the planet calls us terrorists and once we lay down our arms and resist peacefully, the Israelis kill us,” he added.
“And even once we don’t protest peacefully, they take our land. What can we do?”