Israeli police on Saturday said they have arrested four of the six Palestinians who broke out of a maximum-security prison this week — including a famed militant leader whose exploits over the years have made him a well-known figure in Israel.
The arrests moved Israel closer to closing an embarrassing episode that exposed deep flaws in its prison system and turned the fugitive prisoners into Palestinian heroes.
Late on Friday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel in an apparent sign of solidarity, drawing Israeli airstrikes in reprisal.
The four wanted men were caught in a pair of arrests in northern Israel.
Early on Saturday, police said they had caught two men, including Zakaria Zubeidi, hiding in a truck parking lot in the Arab town of Umm Al-Ghanam.
The Israeli Haaretz news site, quoting an unidentified defense official, said Zubeidi and fellow fugitive Mohammed Aradeh had been hiding outdoors for some time. The source said the two escapees appeared to have received no help following their escape and had no planned route on where to go.
Zubeidi was a militant leader during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s. While he has been linked to attacks on Israelis, he also was well known for giving frequent media interviews and for a friendship he once had with an Israeli woman
. Zubeidi over the years had received amnesty and taken college courses and was active in a West Bank theater movement before he was re-arrested in 2019 on suspicions of involvement in attacks.—Agencies