Five days into a national manhunt for six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped from a high-security jail in northern Israel, police captured two of the fugitives in Nazareth Friday night. Hours later, two others — including notorious terror commander Zakaria Zubeidi — were apprehended in the nearby town of Shibli–Umm al-Ghanam.
In both cases, Arab Israelis who encountered the fugitives reported them to authorities, aiding in their capture. Police sources told Walla news that dozens of Arabs phoned in reports in recent days.
The fugitives had managed to avoid capture since breaking out of Gilboa Prison early Monday.
Two of their fellow escapees remained on the run.
Police sources told the Ynet news site on Saturday that despite earlier assessments that the prisoners had had outside help and that a getaway vehicle had driven them away, authorities now believed they’d acted alone and ha traveled on foot the entire time.
In Nazareth on Friday evening, police caught convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Yaquob Qadiri and Mahmoud al-Arida, the latter of whom was reported to have masterminded the jailbreak.
Prior to their arrests, the two requested food from residents of Nazareth, but locals rejected their request and alerted police, according to Hebrew media.
Some reports said residents noticed al-Arida and Qadiri digging through trash, apparently searching for food.
Neither resisted arrest and video showed police putting the handcuffed detainees in patrol cars.
The next two to be captured were Zubeidi and Mohammed al-Arida, the reported mastermind’s younger brother. The two were caught early Saturday morning.
According to Haaretz, the two were earlier sighted out in the open by a dune buggy driver from a nearby village, and requested a ride. He refused and later reported them to the police. Military trackers then found their footprints in the dirt, as well as discarded cigarettes and a drink can.
3 גששים במילואים שחזרו את נתיב הבריחה – והביאו לתפיסת זביידי
אין על השיטות של פעם pic.twitter.com/9HwyC2bybY
— ????????Avi Noga???????? (@AviNoga3) September 11, 2021
The trackers managed to follow the clues to Zubeidi and al-Arida, who were hiding in a parking lot used by truck drivers.
Al-Arida was found sleeping in a semi-trailer while Zubeidi was captured nearby as he wandered around exhausted.
זכרייה זביידי ומוחמד עראדה…