Two of six Palestinian escapees caught

Yaquob Qadiri (L) and Mahmoud al-Arida. [Photo: TOI]

Two Palestinian fugitives were caught on Friday after an extensive manhunt for six escapees who dug their way out of high security Israeli prison Gilboa, Haaretz reported.

Members of Islamic Jihad  Mahmoud Aradeh and Yakub Kadari were nabbed in Nazareth by security forces after two civilians spotted the men, and reported them as suspicious figures.

The pair were taken for questioning by Israel’s security organisation Shin Bet, and did not resist arrest, according to reports.

Prominent prison escapee Zakaria Zubeidi, former Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade leader is yet to be caught.

Israel was confounded after six escapees dug their way out of the maximum security prison and managed to escape without detection.

The six escapees dug the hole over a period of time with nothing but a rusty spoon, and hid the entrance point with a loose floorboard.

A day before the escape, Zubeidi was said to have requested a transfer to the cell where the other five escapees were held, which was said to have been granted with no questions asked.

The six Palestinians left at around 1:00am local time, and emerged directly beneath the watch tower, where, according to security sources, the guard in the watch tower had fallen asleep.

The six men then continued on foot to a waiting vehicle, where some got in and others continued walking.

The alarm was initially raised by a citizen on Israel’s Route 71, who claimed to have seen figures running through fields, arousing suspicions of a prison break. Subsequent reports included that of one from a gas station attendant who had seen a strange man apparently passing through.

Three prisoners were reported missing by prison staff at around 03:30am, which was then increased to six unaccounted for at 4am.

The Gilboa prison break is believed to be Israel’s most successful instance of escaping a high security jail.

The hunt for the other four fugitives continues.

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