Israeli security forces unable to find six escaped Palestinian prisoners have arrested six of their relatives instead.
The prisoners tunnelled their way out of the high-security Gilboa jail in northern Israel on Monday, having dug a hole in the floor of their cell with a spoon.
Israel has deployed drones, road checkpoints and an army mission to Jenin, the home town in the occupied West Bank of many of the escaped prisoners, but has failed to track them down.
Instead, on Wednesday security forces arrested two brothers of Mahmoud Ardah, who masterminded the escape, Dr Nidal Ardah, another relative, two brothers of escaped prisoner Mohammad Ardah, and prisoner Munadel Infeiat’s father.
From last night mass protest in Nablus City in support of Palestinian prisoners in Zi0n!$t Je€!$h occupation jails, occupied Palestine, 9 September 2021.#FreedomTunnel #FreePalestinianPrisoners pic.twitter.com/nuP5EZsxVm— Younes Arar (@YounesArar2) September 9, 2021
The arrests provoked anger in the West Bank. “Holding someone in order to coerce a relative to do something is a mafia-style tactic,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch.
From last night mass protest in Alkhalil City (Hebron) in support of Palestinian prisoners in Zi0n!$t Je€!$h occupation jails, occupied Palestine, 9 September 2021.#FreedomTunnel #FreePalestinianPrisoners pic.twitter.com/8KZp3flC8u— Younes Arar (@YounesArar2) September 9, 2021
Sami Shehadeh, a member of the Knesset from the Joint Arab List, told Arab News the reaction from the Israeli security forces was hysterical. “They are carrying out brutal acts of revenge against prisoners and their families. This is collective punishment, which we denounce, and we call for the immediate cessation of these acts against our people.”
Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna said arresting relatives of the escaped prisoners was barbaric. “This is an act of collective punishment and an inhuman act,” he said.
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