Hamas Warns of Escalation of Confrontation With Israel After Escaped Prisoners Recaptured
11:40 GMT 11.09.2021 (Updated: 11:51 GMT 11.09.2021)
Palestinians across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza held a ‘day of rage’ on Friday in solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails, in the aftermath of the escape of six inmates from Gilboa, a high-security prison in Israel’s north. The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza early Saturday following an alleged militant rocket attack.
Hamas, the Palestinian political and militant movement that governs Gaza, has warned that the confrontation with Israel may escalate in the wake of the rearrest of four of the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped Gilboa Prison through a secretly-dug underground tunnel.
“The arrest of some of [the prisoners]is only one round in the open and extended conflict with the Israeli occupation, and it will only constitute a driving force for our people and the people of the occupied West Bank to continue their resistance and massive uprising in the face of occupation,” the group said Saturday.
Referring to the escaped men as the “heroes of the Battle of Freedom Tunnel”, the militant group suggested that their escape served to “break the prestige of the occupation and its security system,” and “revived the Palestinian people’s hopes that it is only a matter of time until the West Bank blows up in Israel’s face”.
The Israel Defence Forces offered a rare admission of responsibility for their military operation in Gaza early Saturday, stating that IDF fighter jets and helicopters attacked a Hamas position said to be “used for machine gun fire”, as well as a storage site and military compound “used to produce concrete for terrorist tunnels”.
11 September 2021, 01:10 GMT
The Israeli strikes followed the issuing of a red alert in Eshkol, an Israeli region near the Gaza border, warning of possible rocket attacks coming out of the besieged territory. The IDF indicated that it intercepted one rocket using its Iron Dome air defence system, but did not specify who launched it.
Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday amid a series of ‘day of rage’ rallies in support of the escaped prisoners. A 50-year-old Palestinian doctor was shot dead by police after allegedly stabbing and injuring a police officer. Forty more people were injured in the violence.
Four of the six Palestinians who escaped from Gilboa Prison on 6 September were recaptured as of Saturday. Five of the six escapees are reportedly members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Gaza-based political and militant group which like Hamas has waged a guerrilla war against Israel. The imprisoned men were jailed for their membership in banned organisations, and for suspected attacks on Israelis. Israel and its US and European allies consider both Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist groups.
Israeli officials have vowed to recapture the two remaining fugitives.
The escalating tensions between Hamas militants and Israel over the prison escape comes in the wake of this spring’s Israel-Palestine crisis, which saw Israel launching hundreds of air and missile strikes into Gaza after Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel. Over 300 people were killed in the violence, mostly Palestinians.
15 May 2021, 17:37 GMT