The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group have sent highly trained gunmen to the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank ahead of expected Israeli military raids hunting six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from an Israeli prison.
The six prisoners, who are considered highly dangerous by the Israeli government, broke out of the high-security Gilboa prison early Monday, September 5 by digging an underground hole in what is considered to be among the most serious jailbreaks in the country’s history.
Now, Israel has launched a a massive manhunt to capture the fugitives who are still on the run over a day after their disappearance.
Five of the six fugitives are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and now the terror group has issued several threats to Israel warning against raids in Jenin while also warning the Israeli government not to take action against the group’s members in Israeli prisons.
Two groups, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah have now both dispatched members to Jenin to bolster their forces there ahead of the expected incursions by the Israel Defense Forces, Channel 12 news reported.
“If the IDF enters [Jenin] it will be met with significant firepower from many weapons and explosive devices,” the group said at a Tuesday press conference in Jenin.
The six escapees include Zakaria Zubeidi, a notorious commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group, who was in prison while on trial for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder.
Zubeidi’s brother Jibril, who said he was held for seven years in Gilboa Prison, told Channel 13 he had believed the jail to be impregnable; he also said he had “no idea” of Zakaria’s whereabouts.
Four escapees were in jail for life in connection with deadly attacks against Israelis and affiliation with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. The remaining prisoner was being held in administrative detention and had not been charged with a crime other than belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Many Palestinians assume that the six escapees would seek refuge in the Jenin camp. All of the fugitives are from the Jenin area, which has largely become a no-go zone to the IDF and Palestinian Authority security forces.
Public celebrations have been reported in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron, and in the Gaza Strip, following the escape. The festivities in Jenin at the humiliation of Israel have been particularly prolonged and widespread.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh spoke out in support of the fugitives, saying, “It’s the right of every prisoner to escape from prison by any means.”