JERUSALEM — Israel on Sunday captured the last of the six Palestinian inmates who escaped a maximum-security prison nearly two weeks ago, ending an episode that Israelis saw as a humiliation of their security establishment and Palestinians celebrated as a rare black eye for the Israeli occupation.
The Israeli Army said in a statement that it had captured Munadil Nafayat and Eham Kamamji in Jenin, their hometown in the occupied West Bank, in an early-morning operation conducted jointly with a police special forces unit and the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.
Of the six prisoners who broke out of Gilboa prison in northern Israel on Sept. 6, Mr. Nafayat and Mr. Kamamji were the only ones who had managed to reach the West Bank. The other four were caught in northern Israel more than a week ago.
The six escaped their shared cell after removing part of the floor of their shower cubicle and crawling for nearly 32 yards underneath the prison, partly through a pre-existing cavity that extended from beneath the cell toward the prison perimeter.
The escape, Israel’s biggest jailbreak in more than 20 years, set off an uproar. The relative ease with which several men convicted of terrorism offenses had burrowed to freedom was considered a damning indictment of the prison system, its security procedures and its intelligence-gathering abilities.
But for many Palestinians, who see the fugitives as resistance fighters against a 54-year occupation, the jailbreak was a morale-boosting act of heroism. Palestinian social media users circulated doctored images of the fugitives’ arrests, turning their grimaces into smiles to portray them as triumphant even at the moment of their capture.
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