Did the Palestinian Authority join Israeli manhunt for escaped fugitives?

PA is reportedly helping search in exchange for certain Israeli commitments.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

According to a Lebanese report widely picked up by the Israeli media on Friday, the Palestinian Authority is cooperating with the Israeli manhunt for six Palestinian terrorists who escaped from a high-security prison this week.

The Beirut-based al-Akhbar daily reported that the PA agreed to assist the manhunt while Israel committed itself to capturing the six alive and easing prison conditions for thousands of other incarcerated Palestinians. The report was based on a single anonymous source within the PA and has not been independently verified.

The paper, which is supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah, has frequently accused the PA of collaborating with Israel on security matters.

According to al-Akhbar, the tensions raised by the breakout do not serve the interests of the PA, which wants calm to advance its “economic peace initiatives.” The paper reported that PA security officials have warned their Israeli counterparts that the Palestinian street will explode if the escapees are killed.

The paper also reported that Israel has agreed to release some Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture.

If the report is accurate, the assistance would be an abrupt and risky turnaround for the PA. Officials in Ramallah have made a number of comments in support of the fugitives. The breakout and its fallout have triggered riots in Israeli prisons and clashes around Judea and Samaria. Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday and the IDF is gearing up for an escalation of violence.

The six security prisoners tunneled their way out of the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on Monday. Four were serving life sentences for deadly terror attacks. All are considered dangerous. Five were members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad while the one belonged to Fatah. All were from the Jenin area.

The Israeli security establishment believes some of the escapees made their way to Jordan while the others are hiding in Palestinian villages with help from the locals.

Initial findings by the Israel Prison Service point to critical security lapses at Gilboa.