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Israel carries out mass arrests of Palestinians after heroic jailbreak

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli soldiers guard along a fence leading to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as part of search efforts to capture six Palestinian men who had escaped from Gilboa prison earlier this week, by the village of Muqeibila, on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A group advocating Palestinian prisoners’ rights says scores of Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces in recent days as the Tel Aviv regime is pressing ahead with its crackdown following a heroic escape of six Palestinian inmates from a high-security Israeli jail.  

In a report on Sunday, the Addameer  Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said Israeli forces have detained more than 100 Palestinians since the daring jailbreak from the Gilboa prison located in the northern part of the occupied territories through an underground tunnel earlier this month.

“We have documented an average of 14 arrests per day in the occupied West Bank since the men escaped,” Milena Ansari from Addameer told Al Jazeera. “This does not include the Palestinians arrested within Israel.”

Israel launched a campaign of mass arrests and raids in the occupied cities of Ramallah, al-Khalil, Nablus and surrounding villages following the prison break.

A number of Palestinian children were also swept up in the latest wave of arrests.

In the predawn hours of September 6, Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade in Jenin 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.

Over 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons faced a repressive campaign by the Tel Aviv regime in the wake of the recent escape.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) sent many Palestinian prisoners into solitary confinement and restricted their access to essential services.

Last Saturday, Israeli media outlets reported that four of the escapees had been arrested in the northern part of the occupied territories. 

Following the arrests last week, thousands of Palestinians held protests across the occupied West Bank in support of the six prisoners, particularly those who were recaptured.

The protests were held amid fears of an Israeli retaliation that has already repressed hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners.

The heroic jailbreak has come as a huge embarrassment to Tel Aviv and exposed fault lines in its much-hyped security and intelligence apparatus. The Gilboa prison is one of the highly-fortified detention centers in Israel. 

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

On Sunday, the Israeli ministry of military affairs said earlier in the day that the two remaining Palestinian prisoners were apprehended in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

It said the two Palestinians “were caught alive”, surrendering without resistance after troops encircled their building.

Palestinian media outlets said there were exchanges of gunfire during the pre-dawn raid by Israeli special forces.

Palestine’s Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that the Israeli soldiers fired live bullets at protesters during the clashes which erupted in the neighborhood following the raid, injuring at least two of them. The two were hospitalized.

Two other Palestinians, reportedly Jenin residents, were also arrested in the raid, including a man with physical disability.

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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