Israeli security forces take fugitive Palestinian security prisoners into custody after a successful raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, September 19, 2021

Israeli commando recounts successful raid that ended prison break saga

Little over two weeks after six Palestinian prisoners manage to break out of maximum-security penitentiary, all inmates once again in Israeli custody; 'we feel like we've reached a closure,' says spec-ops commander

Elior Levy, Itamar Eichner |
Published: 09.19.21, 17:53
After Israeli security forces apprehended the two remaining fugitives who tunneled out of a high-level penitentiary in northern Israel earlier this month, the commander of the police counterterrorism unit sat down with Ynet and laid down his account of the events that led to the capture of the runaways.
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  • Iham Kamamji, 35, and Munadil Nafiyat, 26 — both members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group — were captured in the early morning hours in a home in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, according to police.
    Israeli forces raiding Jenin home where the escaped security prisoners were hiding
    Commander H. told Ynet that higher-ups have set their sights on Jenin — the prisoners' hometown and a PIJ stronghold — from the get-go and were certain that at least one of the fugitives may have made their way across the border into the West Bank.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    תפיסת המחבלים בג'נין
    תפיסת המחבלים בג'נין
    Israeli security forces take fugitive Palestinian security prisoners into custody after a successful raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, September 19, 2021
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Ultimately, police managed to zero in on the location of the two and they were arrested in a pre-dawn raid on a house in the eastern section of the city in which they were staying. Meanwhile, a separate military force entered a different section of Jenin to distract locals from the ongoing foray.
    "We had intelligence that pointed to the building where the fugitives were hiding," H. said. "After we were given the go-ahead, it took us no more than 20 minutes to head out. We wanted them to be in that building and for this saga to end."
    A little over two weeks after they managed to break out of the maximum-security Gilboa Prison, all six inmates were once again in Israeli custody. The other four prisoners were busted near the northern city of Nazareth on two separate occasions last weekend.
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    תיעוד מג'נין
    תיעוד מג'נין
    Surveillance camera footage depicting Israeli forces raiding Jenin home where the escaped security prisoners were hiding
    "We feel like we've reached a closure," H said. "When we arrived at the hideout, the fugitives realized they were surrounded and surrendered without a fight.
    "At first, we were not sure that those were the men we were chasing after and only when they approached us could we confirm their identity. We were thrilled that there were no casualties and the operation wrapped up the way it did. It is a fantastic feeling."
    Palestinian sources reported that another local was taken in by security forces for providing the fugitives shelter.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    הבית בג'נין בו נתפסו האסירים
    הבית בג'נין בו נתפסו האסירים
    The prisoners' hideout in Jenin
    (Photo: AFP)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked the forces for their relentless efforts to capture the remaining fugitives.
    "I wish to thank all the forces for their precise and professional work and their determination during these past weeks," Bennett said at a memorial service for the fallen IDF soldiers killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
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