Six out of 13 prisoners who broke out of a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho on Friday have been rearrested, a senior PA security official stated Saturday. The remaining seven fugitives, who some reports identify as terrorists, are still at large.
There are conflicting reports of the nature of the prisoners’ crimes. The official denies reports that claim that there was any political involvement in the escape. He further emphasized that the fugitives were suspects awaiting trial or serving prison sentences for petty crimes.
A PA security officer, Majid Faraj, who heads the PA’s military intelligence service in Judea and Samaria, previously stated that the escaped prisoners had been held for non-terror related crimes. He, however, admitted that four of the prisoners are “wanted by Israeli intelligence.”
PA security is reportedly on a wide-scale manhunt to attempt to recapture the fugitives, who had escaped from prison on Friday from the PA-controlled city of Jericho. According to some reports, some of the fugitives are former terrorists who signed “amnesty” papers in which they agree to spend time in PA prisons in lieu of extradition to Israel for imprisonment.
Last March, the Arab terrorists who murdered two young Jewish men at Nahal Telem in the Hevron area in January reportedly escaped a PA prison. Israeli security experts expressed doubts about the veracity of the March prison escape story, which has been used repeatedly to cover the PA’s release of terrorists in its custody, in what has become known as the "revolving door policy."
Two similar terrorist “escapes” occurred last February from a prison in the PA-controlled city of Shechem, in northern Samaria. The two fugitives were members of Fatah’s Al Aksa Martys’ Brigades and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations.
Both were serving a 90-day jail term, after which they were to be freed under an agreement between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement was part of the Olmert government’s fugitive amnesty program, and one of the numerous “good will gestures” it made to the PA as part of the effort to prop up the Abbas government.