Palestinians rage at capture of fugitives, doctor fake grins onto their faces

Palestinians expressed disappointment and anger in the media and on social media on Saturday over Israel’s capture of four out of six prisoners who escaped their jail earlier in the week, amid calls for mass protests and clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank.

According to Channel 12 news, the Palestinian public was being urged by various religious and political figures to go out into the streets and confront Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, Hamas was promising that the recaptured prisoners would be freed in a future swap with Israel.

It also called on Arab Israelis — several of whom helped authorities catch the men — to aid the remaining fugitives in evading the law.

On social media, where the six had been lionized in recent days as national heros, doctored photos were disseminated of the fugitives after their capture, turning their true-life grim and tired expressions into defiant grins to the cameras.

Such editing is easily achievable using various apps.

According to Channel 12, Palestinian prisoners across Israeli jails were planning to begin hunger strikes on September 17, in protest of authorities’ steps to increase curbs on prisoners in the wake of the escape.

Friday night also saw demonstrations held across the West Bank, some of them violent, after the police captured two of the six Palestinian security prisoners. Up to 1,000 demonstrators and rioters took part in protests at 11 locations across the West Bank.

Palestinians opened fire toward Israeli troops at the Jalamah checkpoint, near the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, for the second night in a row, according to the Israeli military.

The Israeli army said that up to 600 protesters gathered at the checkpoint to clash with soldiers. In addition to the gunfire, rioters set fire to tires and threw Molotov cocktails toward soldiers stationed there. The military said that it acted to disperse the demonstrators. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The cinematic Gilboa Prison jailbreak of the six Palestinians on Monday morning has raised tensions across the West Bank. Israeli forces have conducted wide-ranging search operations, while Palestinian armed groups have vowed revenge should the fugitives be harmed.

Videos circulating on social media showed small crowds gathering in downtown Ramallah and Hebron’s al-Fawar refugee camp on Friday night in solidarity with the two recaptured fugitives. Other footage purportedly showed violent disturbances at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

In another nighttime disturbance in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers fired at three Palestinians at a pillbox near Hebron, wounding one. An Israeli military spokesperson said that the three had thrown Molotov cocktails at troops. The soldiers responded with Ruger bullets, a smaller but still deadly form of live fire, according to the army. The three suspects fled, with Israeli search efforts ongoing.

Palestinian media also reported clashes in Hebron’s al-Aroub refugee camp. The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palestinians riot at a demonstration in support of the escape of the six prisoners in the village of Kafr Qaddoum, west of Nablus in the West Bank, on September 10, 2021. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Additionally, gunmen attacked the home of Arab Israeli senior police officer Jamal Hakroush in the northern Israeli city of Kafr Kanna on Friday evening. There were no injuries in the incident, although the shooting damaged the building, according to Israel Police.

It was unclear if the attack was linked to the capture of the prisoners, a police spokesperson added. Hakroush directs a unit whose directive is to fight rising crime in Arab cities and towns.

The disturbances came in the hours immediately following the capture of two of the escaped prisoners in the northern Israeli town of Nazareth.

Shortly after the arrests, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a single rocket toward Israel that was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The Magen David Adom emergency service said that one woman was lightly injured while running for shelter when the siren sounded.

For many Palestinians, the fugitives have been regarded as “heroes” who succeeded in freeing themselves from multiple life sentences. In the Gaza Strip, as well as in the West Bank, some Palestinians have organized sit-ins and joyful gatherings to celebrate the prison break.

Despite the captures, Islamic Jihad celebrated the escapees and warned Israel against harming them while in detention, as well as saying this week’s jail bust would not be the last.

“We hold the enemy totally responsible for the lives of the two prisoners arrested in Nazareth. Putting their lives in danger would be a declaration of war against the Palestinian people,” the terror group said in a statement.

Israel “is trying to use the picture of the two fighters’ arrests to try and show that this is a victory, to revitalize the image of its army which has become the target of mockery,” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shehab told the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen network.

“This operation absolutely will not be the last,” Shehab warned, referring to the prisoner escape, later adding: “We are perfectly aware that we are engaged in a long struggle.”

The Hamas terror group also hailed the two prisoners’ escape attempt, saying that arresting them would not “break their will.”

“They achieved honor by their successful escape operation, humiliating the occupying power and shattering its prestige. Arresting them will not wash away the shame of occupation, nor will it break [the two prisoners’] will. They will one day be free outside the jailer’s bars,” said Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou.

Scattered rallies also took place in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The terror group described the protests as “spontaneous.”

Emanuel Fabian and agencies contributed to this report.

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