Three Suspects Arrested for Assisting Palestinian Fugitives in Northern Israel

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החיפושים בכפר נאעורה, היום
The manhunt in the village Na'ura, today Credit: Gil Eliahu

Three people were detained in the northern Israeli village of Na'ura on Tuesday on suspicion of assisting the six Palestinians on the run from Israeli authorities after their escape from Gilboa Prison. 

According to sources involved in the investigation, the prisoners were only Na'ura for a short time, where they went to the local mosque to shower and change their clothes, before going to the local bakery to purchase food. The police found some of the prisoners' clothes in the village, they added.

The arrests came after the countrywide dragnet for six Palestinian security prisoners honed in on the village after over 24 hours of searching with no significant breakthroughs.

One resident of Na'ura said that there was a large police presence in the village on Tuesday morning. The police apparently blocked off entrances and exits to the village and collected footage from security cameras.

The source stressed that relations between the village and neighboring Jewish communities are positive, and that the unusual police attention is liable to damage these relations. 

The Israeli army is also bolstering its presence in the West Bank town of Jalameh, which straddles the Green Line and is located near the city of Jenin, where the escapees hail from.

In the meantime, the national unit responsible for the investigating the jailbreak has collected testimonies of 14 prison wardens, though none of them have been questioned under caution. This includes those responsible for the manning the guard towers, the wing from which the inmates escaped and the management of the prison. Their testimonies will be examined before any action is taken. According to a Palestinian source, the guards at Gilboa Prison had not searched the escapees' cells for around a year. 

Earlier in the day, Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh called on Palestinians to house and protect the escapees, as well as threatening that any attempt by Israel to harm them would be met with a response. 

A police source also surmised on Tuesday that it is "highly likely" that the six high-risk security prisoners had crossed into Jordan.

Defense officials concurred that it is possible that some of the prisoners have crossed the Green Line into the West Bank given the time that has elapsed since the escape, but maintained that there is no indication yet that they passed into Jordan.

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