Hamas Military Wing Pledges Captive Swap Deal If Israel Includes Jail Escapees
23:59 GMT 11.09.2021 (Updated: 13:46 GMT 06.08.2022)
Six Palestinians escaped Gilboa earlier this week, including 45-year-old Zakaria Zubeidi, a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. The five other men are reportedly members of the Islamic Jihad Movement.
Palestinian prisoners who escaped from Israel's Gilboa prison and were recently re-arrested by Israeli police must be included in a prisoner exchange deal with the Jewish state, a spokesman for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, said on Saturday.
"The heroes of the [Freedom Tunnel] will come out with their heads held high, and the Qassam leadership's decision that an upcoming exchange deal will only take place with the liberation of these heroes," the spokesman reportedly vowed in a video message circulating online.
"In the face of the enemy's threats to our people in the West Bank and Jenin al-Qassam, we affirm that the Jenin camp and its revolutionaries are not alone, and we will not allow the enemy to overpower them and we will perform our religious and national duty towards them," he reportedly added.
According to Israel's police press office, four out of the six escapees have been re-arrested. The two most recent are Zubeidi and 39-year-old Mahmoud Al-Arada, the latter has been given three life sentences by Tel Aviv.
The two men who have not yet been captured are Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat, Israeli media reported. The former was reportedly charged with killing an Israeli in 2006, while the latter is serving a life sentence for being a member of the Islamic Jihad, as Israeli legal practice imprisons members of the sect without the necessity of filing charges.
11 September 2021, 11:40 GMT
The inmates reportedly escaped by using a rusty spoon to dig a hole into a large cavity under the prison and tunnel out on the other side of the facility’s wall where they were conveniently picked up by a waiting car. The actual digging reportedly took five months.
This comes amid continued unrest in the West Bank, in which Palestinian protesters have clashed
with Israeli security forces. The most severe clashes reportedly occurred on Wednesday, when at least 100 Palestinians were injured near the city of Nablus.
Palestinians have been protesting against Israeli expansion in the West Bank throughout the summer.