Israel says manhunt for Palestinian escapees intensified

JERUSALEM (AA): Israeli defense minister Friday said a manhunt to find the six Palestinians who escaped from prison earlier this week has been expanded.

The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation network quoted Benny Gantz as saying while visiting an Israeli army base in the occupied West Bank that search operations are taking place in all areas in collaboration with the Palestinian Authority.

“Determined work is being carried out, with proper collaboration among different security branches,” Gantz told reporters at the end of his visit.

“Ultimately, we will get our hands on the people who escaped. There are intelligence and operational leads and I am sure we will catch them,” Gantz said.

He said the six Palestinians are hiding among millions of people, adding: “I hope the day ends quietly, but in any case, the IDF – the Israeli army – is prepared for any development.” He did not give further details.

Israeli media fears the arrest or killing of the six Palestinian escapees would escalate the situation in the West Bank.

On Monday, six Palestinian prisoners tunneled out of the high-security Gilboa prison in northern Israel.

The escape has been hailed as a “big victory” by Palestinians, while Israeli forces have launched a manhunt after what has been criticized in the country as an unacceptable security and intelligence failure.

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