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Palestinians issue warning after Israel says 4 escaped prisoners arrested

Palestinian prison escapees Yaqoub Qadri, 48, and 45-year-old Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah (Photo via Twitter)

The Islamic Jihad resistance movement and several Palestinian political factions have warned Israel against causing harm and endangering the lives of prisoners allegedly detained after they escaped from a maximum-security prison earlier this week.

In a statement, Islamic Jihad said it holds Tel Aviv fully responsible for the lives of Yaqoub Qadri, 48, and 45-year-old Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, who were said to have been re-arrested in the city of Nazareth.

On Saturday, Israeli authorities claimed to have arrested two more prisoners.

Islamic Jihad warned that any harm to their lives would amount to a declaration of war against Palestinians, and trigger a series of swift retaliatory measures against the Tel Aviv regime.

Israel “is trying to use the picture of the two fighters’ arrests to try and show that this is a victory, to revitalize the image of its army which has become the target of mockery,” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shehab told the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television news network Friday.

“This operation absolutely will not be the last,” Shehab warned, referring to the prisoner escape, adding, “We are perfectly aware that we are engaged in a long struggle.”

Hamas also hailed the prisoners, saying that re-arresting them would not “break their will.”

“They achieved honor by their successful escape operation, humiliating the occupying power and shattering its prestige. Arresting them will not wash away the shame of occupation, nor will it break their will. They will one day be free outside the jailer’s bars,” Hamas spokesperson Abdul Latif al-Qanou said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum later reacted to the detention of two more Palestinian prison escapees, including former Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade leader Zakaria Zubeidi, stating that the move “is nothing more than a new round of open clashes with the occupying regime.”

He added that direct struggle against the Israeli regime serves as the driving force behind Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to continue their popular resistance and uprising in support of Palestinian prisoners, fight for their rights and protect their lands and holy sites.

Barhoum highlighted that the “heroic” and “brave” escape of six Palestinian inmates from the high-security Gilboa prison destroyed the prestige of the occupying Israeli regime and its security apparatus.

“The jailbreak raised hopes in the hearts of our [Palestinian] nation that the uprising in the West Bank and the struggle to do away with the Zionist regime is only a matter of time. It requires further engagements with the enemy, and an increase of retaliatory actions in all squares, towns and villages of the West Bank,” the Hamas spokesman emphasized.

The Fatah movement also held Israel responsible for the lives of the prisoners, and warned the regime against the repercussions of harming them.

In a statement, the resistance movement called on the international community and human rights organizations to intervene and protect Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prisons, and to stop ongoing assaults against them.

Separately, the Commission for Prisoners Affairs at the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) held the Tel Aviv regime fully responsible for the lives of the prisoners, stressing that harming them would affect the entire Palestinian nation.

Head of the commission, Qadri Abu Bakr, was quoted by local media as saying the re-arrest of the prisoners will not weaken the determination and morale of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails.

The two other escaped prisoners were reportedly arrested by Israeli security and Shin Bet forces in Shibli–Umm al-Ghanam town early Saturday.

In the predawn hours of September 6, Zubeidi and five Islamic Jihad members tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system and escaped from Gilboa prison.

Four of the Islamic Jihad members were serving life sentences, while the fifth had been held without charge for two years under a so-called administrative detention order, according to Israeli media.

Prison authorities keep Palestinian inmates under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. The prisoners have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression.

Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

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