Israel recaptures final Palestinian escapees

Israel’s army says it has recaptured the final two of a six man Palestinian group who tunnelled out of a high-security jail almost two weeks ago.

The pair – both members of militant group Islamic Jihad – were arrested after being surrounded by security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, Israel’s Defense Forces said.

The other four were captured last week.

An inquiry is being launched into the incident, which sparked celebrations among Palestinians.

There were clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in Jenin early on Sunday, but Israeli police said the two escapees were recaptured without resistance.

One of the men’s fathers told Associated Press his son agreed to surrender “in order not to endanger the house owners”.

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the operation to recapture the men was “impressive, sophisticated and speedy”, adding “what went wrong can be repaired”.

The episode has proven embarrassing for Israel’s prison service, with Israeli media pointing to a number of security failings.

The men are thought to have spent months digging a tunnel in the floor of their shared cell in Gilboa prison, slipping past a sleeping guard and emerging through a hole on the other side of the prison walls on 6 September.

A lawyer for one of the escaped men said her client used spoons, plates and a kettle handle to dig out of the facility. Spoons have since become a common sight at pro-Palestinian protests.

All of the group were serving sentences for plotting or carrying out attacks against Israelis.

 

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