Thirteen-day manhunt for fugitives comes to an end.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Israel captured the last two Palestinian fugitives from the Gilboa jailbreak on Saturday morning in Jenin, ending a 13-day manhunt.
Iham Kamamji and Munadil Nafiyat, both members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the Jenin area, surrendered peacefully when a home they were hiding in was surrounded by Israeli security forces in a pre-dawn operation. Two other Palestinians said to have helped the fugitives were also arrested.
According to Hebrew reports, the two initially refused to surrender, but did so after Israeli forces fired warning shots.
Palestinian terror leaders had threatened to fiercely resist any Israeli effort to apprehend Kamamji and Nafiyat. Gunmen affiliated with Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah were said to have formed a joint “war room” to battle an Israeli arrest raid. The IDF responded by sending a large group of soldiers to a different area of Jenin as a diversion while dispatching a smaller contingent to the real hideout.
As Israeli security forces left the city, Palestinians rioted, firing shots and throwing firebombs and rocks, but the anticipated organized fighting failed to materialize and no Israelis were injured.
The raid was carried out in a joint operation of the Shin Bet, the IDF’s Haruv Reconnaissance Unit and Yamam, a counter-terror unit within the Israeli Border Police.
“As time passed, we knew they were in Jenin,” said Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai. “We prepared for several days for a complex mission and tonight, after receiving the information we had been waiting for, the signal was given to start the operation, with Yamam forces at the forefront.”
According to the Israel Security Agency, Saturday night’s arrests were made possible by “precise intelligence that was received by the Shin Bet, which identified the building in which the two were hiding in Jenin.”
Kamamji was serving a life sentence for the 2006 kidnap and murder of Eliyahu Asheri. Asheri, an 18-year-old student was studying in a mechina, a program that combines army service with yeshiva studies. Nafayat was being held in administrative detention, a controversial measure which allows Israel to detain terror suspects without filing charges.
On Sept. 6, Kamamji, Nafiyat and four other Palestinians, all imprisoned on terror charges, tunneled their way out of the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.
Last week, convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida were captured in Nazareth, while Mohammed al-Arida and Zakaria Zubeidi were apprehended on Saturday in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Ghanam. Mahmoud and Mohammed al-Arida are brothers.
All the fugitives were from the Jenin area and were members of Islamic Jihad except for Zubeidi, a former commander in the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the capture of the last two fugitives.
“It is done,” Bennett said. “All six terrorists have been recaptured — and will be returned to prison — in an impressive, sophisticated and quick operation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the IDF.”
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