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Israeli regime sounds alarm over possible attacks by two prisoners still at large

The tunnel dug by the prisoners emerged in a dirt road outside Gilboa prison's walls. (Photo by EPA)

Israeli regime officials have expressed alarm that the two Palestinian prisoners, who remain at large after the stunning jailbreak last week, could carry out an attack. 

Four of the six Palestinian prisoners who daringly escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison in northern Israel have been apprehended, while the remaining two are on the run. 

The two prisoners have been identified as Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat, both members of the Islamic Jihad resistance group, belonging to the occupied West Bank.

Kamamji was serving a life sentence at the time of escape, while Nafayat had not been charged with a crime other than being a member of the Islamic Jihad resistance group.

The first major Palestinian prison break in 20 years, the escape of Gilboa Prison inmates was hailed as a "heroic" act by the Palestinian resistance movements.

Omar Barlev, a minister in the Israeli regime, said Sunday the probability of the two prisoners carrying out an attack in response to the arrest of their four comrades was “a source of worry”.

“There must always be a concern because people are in a state of despair and their actions are unpredictable,” he was quoted as saying in the Israeli media.

“Even in the case of the four who were captured without weapons, the necessary precautions needed to be taken because even though the threat was low, it was there.”

Israeli regime officials believe the two remaining escapees may have split up, and the manhunt is now focused on the area around the northern Israeli town of Yokne’am and the West Bank city of Jenin.

Berlev said that at least one of them is in the occupied West Bank, without divulging more details.

He said they are “examining the most challenging scenario”, which is that they are in two different locations, meaning the manhunt would have to spread over a wide area.

The minister further said that the four detained prisoners did not know where the other escapees are located.

“Beyond the first stage when they were together, it is clear that the four who were caught do not know where the other two are,” he remarked.

“The investigation is focused, among other things, on the early stages [of the jailbreak],” Barlev said. “Obviously this is something that took place over a long period of time and was not just planned in a day or two. It raises additional questions as to how the Israel Prisons Service did not detect any of the signs. The examination committee that I will establish will also examine these issues.”

The jailbreak has come as a huge embarrassment to the regime in Tel Aviv and exposed fault lines in its much-hyped security and intelligence apparatus.

The prisoners are thought to have crawled through the space to reach the prison's outer wall, then digging a long tunnel. CCTV footage captured them leaving the tunnel at about 01:30 on Monday. But the alarm was only raised at 04:00, after locals reported seeing "suspicious figures" in fields near the prison, according to reports.

Israeli media blamed the incident on a number of security failures.

Taken aback by the daring jailbreak, Tel Aviv has decided to relocate inmates in Gilboa, with Palestinian resistance factions declaring Friday a day of rage to protest the Israeli regime’s decision.

The punitive measures include moving tens of detainees to solitary confinement, preventing inmates from going to the prison yard, banning prisoners from meeting their families, and closing the canteens.

Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails plan to oppose the illegal moves with partial hunger strike starting next week, prisoners’ advocacy groups have said.

The Palestinian Authority’s Detainees Affairs Commission and the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said on Saturday that the prisoners would boycott the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and its rules and start a gradual hunger strike while more inmates are expected to join the strike every day.

The Palestinian resistance groups and several political factions have warned Israel against causing harm and endangering the lives of prisoners.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in a statement on Monday, said the Zionist regime continues its desperate attempts to cover up the failure of its security agencies and to prevent the Freedom Intifada.

He also noted that the resistance of Palestinians against the relentless attacks on Gaza and clashes in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem al-Quds show the continuity of the Freedom Intifada and inability of the Zionist regime to crush the resistance by force.

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