4 fugitive terrorists captured with help of Arab-Israelis, 2 still on the run

Dozens of Arab-Israeli residents assisted police in the manhunt, calling in with tips after spotting the runaways, Hebrew media reported.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

After five days of searching for six terrorists who escaped the Gilboa Prison early Monday morning in northern Israel, police captured four of them over the weekend.

Thousands of policemen, IDF soldiers, and members of Israel’s Security Agency participated in the manhunt.

Convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida were captured Friday night in the northern city of Nazareth. Qadiri reportedly masterminded the escape.

Apparently exhausted and starving, Qadiri and al-Arida asked for food from residents of the predominantly Arab-Israeli city, but they refused the request and instead alerted police, Hebrew media reported.

The other two captured fugitives — Mohammed al-Arida and terrorist commander Zakaria Zubeidi — were found early Saturday in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Ghanam, also with the help of locals. Zubeidi is the former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Palestinian Authority city of Jenin.

“They found them hiding under a semi-trailer,” Yusuf Kahili, a resident of the town, told reporters, according to Ynet. “I saw them. They looked scared, hungry and humiliated.”

Contrary to previous assumptions that the prison break was done with outside help, the investigations show that the terrorists had no assistance, neither within the prison nor elsewhere.

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The two security prisoners still not found are Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat.

Commenting on the capture Saturday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “the key to success was the smooth and quiet cooperation between all those who took part in the work.

“The quick sharing of information and the precise division of tasks between the security services, which facilitated maximum coverage of the ground, must continue.”

In a series of consultations that he held with security establishment heads over Shabbat, the prime minister emphasized that the high alert must continue until the recapture of the two remaining prisoners.

Bennett expressed his appreciation to the civilians who informed police of the location of the terrorists.