The Islamist Hamas terror group called for a ‘Day of Rage’ to be held after Muslim afternoon prayers today, in protest of sanctions Israel imposed on Palestinian inmates in the wake of the escape of six terrorist security convicts from the northern Gilboa Prison on Monday.
By Erin Viner
A stabbing was reported in the Old City of Jerusalem this afternoon with one police officer said to be wounded. No further details have yet been released concerning the incident.
Prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque ended without violence, although hundreds of Muslim worshippers reportedly chanted songs and slogans in praise of the Gilboa prison break while waving Palestinian flags.
By late afternoon, riots erupted at some ten areas across the West Bank.
The IDF has canceled all leaves for troops stationed in the West Bank, where over 1,000 soldiers have been deployed in a bid to deescalate rising hostilities.
As the intense manhunt for the escaped felons entered its fifth day, Palestinian rioters also clashed with Israeli security forces overnight. Hundreds of Palestinians have been demonstrating nightly since the jailbreak in solidarity with the escapees.
The Israeli military presence may be further bolstered by additional forces in the coming days if deemed necessary, as the wave of violence may further escalate upon the capture of the fugitives, dead or alive.
Zakariya Zubeidi (45), a former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) members Iham Kamamji (35), Monadal Infiat (26), Yakub Kadari (49) and brothers Mahmoud (46) and Mohammed Aradeh (39) executed the most daring prison escape in decades. All were serving life sentences for murderous attacks on Israelis. They are believed to have tunneled out of the maximum-security prison, which is located near the Sea of Galilee and close to the northern West Bank border city of Jenin.
“In the end, we will get our hands on the people who escaped from the prison, through extensive operations in the field, whether it is in the nearby area or in areas far away,” vowed Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz this morning.
“We will continue these operations until we ensure the security of this area,” he added, ensuring that, “in the end, sooner or later, we will apprehend those who need to be captured.”
The Israeli defense chief made the statements during a situational assessment at the IDF Salem base in Samaria with senior officials from the military, Israel Police, Border Police, Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Bet) internal security agency and the IPS.
After conducting an inspection near the Jamalah Checkpoint, on the seam between northern Samaria and pre-1967 Israel west of the Gilboa Prison, Gantz said he was “impressed with the determined work” by the nation’s security agencies.
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has suspended all family visits for Palestinian prisoners until the end of September, following violent clashes by inmates that erupted nationwide.
PIJ security prisoners clashed with guards and set fire to their cells at the Ketziot, Ramon and other prisons overnight Wednesday, amid attempts to relocate them to more secure wards.
An umbrella group claiming to represent prisoners of all the Palestinian factions called on inmates to resist being relocated to other facilities and to ignite fires in their cells if attempts were made to move them by force, threatening, “Any wing of Islamic Jihad that the IPS tries to evacuate will go up in flames.” The group also threatened to launch a widespread hunger strike.
Responding to that call, widespread riots erupted across the West Bank in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Anabta, Nablus, Jenin and Tubas. Shots were reportedly fired at Israeli forces in Ramallah and in the Judea and Samaria Square, but there were no reported injuries.
Arab protestors also clashed with Israeli security forces at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem‘s Old City, while a city bus also came under a rock attack by other protestors near the Nablus Gate. Additional riots erupted in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiya in the capital just east of the Hebrew University.
Following special consultations with defense and security chiefs, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “The events have the potential to impact numerous fronts” but that “Israel is prepared for any scenario.”