Times of Israel
The Israel Police said late Friday that they had captured two of the six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped from jail earlier this week after an intense five-day manhunt.
The two were caught in the northern Israeli town of Nazareth, police said, promising to soon release further details. The Shin Bet also declined to comment.
Hebrew media identified the two as Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida, both of Islamic Jihad. Al-Arida was reported to be the mastermind of the escape. His younger brother Mohammed was still on the run.
Reports said that police had been tipped off by residents of the predominantly Arab town, who noticed two men digging through trash, apparently searching for food.
Channel 12 news said they called the police who realized it might be the fugitives and sent a large force to the area.
Following the arrests, the two were transferred to the Shin Bet for questioning and officials were hopeful they could provide leads to recapturing the other four fugitives, Ynet reported.
The six men escaped Gilboa Prison in northern Israel in one of the worst prison breaks in the country’s history early Monday.
Israeli forces have scrambled to find the inmates, all of them believed to be highly dangerous. In recent days, Israeli troops have arrested many of the fugitives’ family members, including five who were arrested in villages near the northern West Bank city of Jenin in the predawn hours of Friday morning, according to Palestinian media.
It was believed that some of the escapees had managed to enter Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank, while others were still in Israel.
The six escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison in the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, making their way out through their cell’s drainage system and an empty space underneath the prison.
Four of the six fugitives were in jail for life in connection with deadly attacks against Israelis; a fifth — the notorious commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group, Zakaria Zubeidi — was in prison while on trial for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder. Another was held in administrative detention.
The escape exposed a series of failures at the prison and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said Thursday that he had decided to form a government commission to probe the incident.
Among the apparent lapses were failure to learn lessons from previous escape attempts and several operational lapses, including unmanned watchtowers and sleeping guards.
The six dug a tunnel from the shower basin in their cell, according to initial findings by the Israel Prisons Service, reported Thursday night by the Kan public broadcaster.