Palestinians fired at soldiers searching for remaining fugitives in Judea and Samaria

IDF denies that any such incident occurred as the manhunt continues for the last escapees from last week’s prison break.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

IDF troops searching for the two remaining fugitives from last week’s escape from Gilboa Prison came  under fire from Palestinians in northern Samaria, Palestinian news sources reported Monday.

The Palestinian Information Center tweeted a three-second scene of houses nestled in front of a group of trees, with half a dozen gunshots going off in quick succession. Its caption read: “Firing at the occupation forces while they were combing the village of Araqah, Jenin district.”

An IDF Spokesperson’s Unit denied that any such incident had occurred.

All six of the terrorists who broke out of the maximum-security jail last Monday come from the Jenin area, and Israeli security forces are concentrating a good part of their hunt there for the two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) who are the only ones still free out of the group.

One of them, Iham Kamamji, is serving a life sentence for the 2006 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri of Itamar. The other, Munadil Nafiyat, is a PIJ member who has been held in administrative detention since 2019.

“The estimation is that one has succeeded to get to the West Bank. The other one could be on either side of the Green Line,” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev told Channel 12 Saturday.

While PIJ and Hamas leaders called immediately for their fellow Arabs to help the fugitives, it was reportedly tipoffs by Arab citizens that alerted police to the presence of one pair of terrorists in Nazareth Friday, some 27 kilometers north of the prison. They were captured that night.  Another pair was also caught several hours later further east, in a truck parked in the town of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam, thanks to a local noticing the suspects.

Channel 11 reported that the fugitives were actively refused help as well, much earlier on in their escape. Zakaria Zabeidi, the sole Fatah terrorist in the group, told his interrogators after his capture that he and his partner had asked several people in the village they had first reached to drive him to the Palestinian Authority but they had declined to do so.

According to a Ynet report Saturday, the family that had allegedly informed the authorities about the escapees in Nazareth after being asked for food and help was subsequently inundated with death threats from hundreds of Palestinians. The family flatly denied any involvement in the incident, telling the news site that they had been at a wedding at the time and had no idea how their names had become connected to the arrest.