Palestinians suggested that Israel’s recapture of the six fugitives who escaped from Gilboa Prison proves it has collaborators in Jenin.
https://www.jpost.com/-By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Israeli soldiers stand guard in the West Bank city of Jenin, on September 06, 2021. Six Palestinian prisoners escaped from a prison in Israel on Monday, prompting a massive manhunt, Israeli authorities said. The extremely rare break-out took place overnight in the Gilboa Penitentiary, a high-securi
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
The recapture of the last two prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison on Saturday night shows that Israel has very good intelligence sources in the West Bank, residents of Jenin said Sunday.
The recapture of Ayham Kamamji and Munadel Enfayat is also a blow to the Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp who had over the past few days pledged to defend the fugitives and foil any attempt by the IDF to enter the camp or the city of Jenin, the residents said.
PIJ members Kamamji and Enfayat surrendered to the IDF after the house in the eastern part of Jenin city they were hiding in was surrounded by dozens of soldiers.
The two were hiding in the home of Abdel Rahman Abu Ja’far, a clothes merchant whose brother, Ehab, was one of the commanders of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades during the Second Intifada.
Abdel Rahman Abu Ja’far was detained by the IDF together with the fugitives.
“The arrest of the two prisoners shows that Israel has collaborators in Jenin,” said Jenin resident Abdullah al-Natour. “Unfortunately, collaborators have always existed not only in Jenin, but in most cities, villages and refugee camps.”
During the First Intifada, which erupted in 1987, gunmen in the Jenin area took it upon themselves to kill many Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, he said. They also targeted soldiers and Israeli citizens.
Then, a Fatah-affiliated armed group called Fahd al-Aswad (Black Panther) killed several suspected informants in the Jenin area, forcing many others to flee their homes. The IDF set up a special camp called Fahmeh on the southern outskirts of Jenin for the suspected collaborators and their families. Other families were moved to Arab communities inside Israel.
Some Palestinian social-media users accused the Palestinian Authority of assisting Israel in tracking down the two fugitives. Security coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF enabled Israel to locate the fugitives, they said.
A senior PA official in Jenin denied the charge, saying the Palestinian security forces had nothing to do with the arrests.
Over the past few days, gunmen belonging to Fatah and PIJ warned that Israel would “pay a heavy price” if the IDF entered the camp or Jenin city to recapture the escaped prisoners.
But most of the gunmen were nowhere to be seen when a large number of security forces entered different parts of Jenin as a distraction.
On Sunday, several Jenin residents scoffed at the threats made by the gunmen.
“The gunmen promised to foil an Israeli invasion of Jenin,” said Bassam Ata. “Why make such threats if you know that you can’t do anything when the soldiers enter Jenin?”
A Fatah activist in Jenin refugee camp said he and his friends expected the IDF to raid the camp, but not the Jenin neighborhood where the fugitives were hiding.
“The two men were arrested outside the [refugee] camp,” he said. “Were they staying inside the camp, the Israeli army would not have been able to catch them. We had dozens of armed men waiting for the army.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials and factions continued to heap praise on the six inmates who managed to escape from Gilboa Prison and were later recaptured by the Israeli security forces.
The escape drew the world’s attention to the “plight” of the Palestinian prisoners in Israel, they said, vowing to pursue efforts to secure the release of all the inmates. That the escaped prisoners were recaptured does not diminish the “great achievement” they scored by breaking out of a high-security prison, they added.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef praised the escaped prisoners as “heroes” and called on Palestinians to continue launching campaigns in support of all the security prisoners.
In an interview with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, he called on the International Criminal Court “to expedite its investigation into the crimes of the occupation against the prisoners.”
Another PLO official, Ahmed Majdalani, praised the six fugitives for bringing the issue of all prisoners to the attention of the international community.
The PA leadership was planning to raise the issue of the prisoners before the United Nations General Assembly during its upcoming meeting in New York, he said.
Qadoura Fares, head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner Club, said the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison “restored the unity of the Palestinian street and proved the importance of unity.”
Hamas said the Palestinian “resistance” groups would continue to work toward securing the release of all the security prisoners.
The time has come to “cut off the Israeli arm that kidnapped” the two fugitives in Jenin, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
Senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahr condemned Israel for recapturing the escaped prisoners in Jenin.
The arrest of the two fugitives “does not mean the end of the story,” he said, adding that the escape had dealt a severe blow to Israel. Hamas would do its utmost to free all the security prisoners, he added.
The rearrest of the six fugitives “will not erase the impact of the defeat inflicted on the occupation,” PIJ said in a statement.
It reiterated its pledge to continue working for the release of all the prisoners and held Israel responsible for any harm to the lives of the inmates.
PIJ also called on the military wings of the Palestinian factions “to remain in a state of alert and high readiness to defend the prisoners.”