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Israel catches two more escaped Palestinian militants, police say

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September 11, 2021

By Rami Ayyub

NAZARETH, Israel (Reuters) -Israeli forces on Saturday captured two more of the six Palestinian militants who made a dramatic escape from a maximum security Israeli jail this week, a police spokesperson said.

The two men were found hiding in a truck parking lot in an Arab village in northern Israel, near the city of Nazareth, where two other escapees were captured hours earlier.

Their Hollywood-style prison break on Monday, through a hole in their prison cell floor, delighted Palestinians and embarrassed Israel.

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Footage distributed by Israel Police showed officers leading the two men, blindfold and handcuffed, into a police vehicle as a manhunt for two more inmates that are still at large continued.

The six men have either been convicted or are suspected of planning or carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis. Israeli officials have pledged a thorough investigation into apparent security lapses that allowed their escape.

One of the men captured on Saturday morning was Zakaria Zubeidi, a high-profile former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades armed group in the West Bank city of Jenin.

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Zubeidi, who once received Israeli amnesty, was rearrested by Israel in 2019 after his alleged involvement in further shootings.

The other five prisoners are members of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

Across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinians have protested in support of the men, seeing them as heroes in their struggle for statehood in territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel says Palestinians involved in violent anti-Israeli activities are terrorists.

Palestinian factions said there would be repercussions for the men’s capture. Gaza militants fired a rocket towards Israel on Friday following the first two rearrests, drawing Israeli air strikes in the enclave.

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The captures could ignite further clashes.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub in Nazareth; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and William Mallard)

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