Photo Credit: Israel Police Northern District / Avi Noga via Twitter
Recaptured terrorist fugitive Zakaria Zubeidi, who escaped from Gilboa Prison.

Four of the six terrorist inmates who escaped Gilboa Prison early last Monday were captured Friday night and early Saturday by Israeli security forces.

Meet the 6 Escaped Terrorists from Gilboa Prison

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Israeli Arabs who encountered the fugitives had reported their locations to authorities. Police said they received dozens of phone calls from Israeli Arabs over the past several days.

After the calls, special military trackers followed the fugitives’ footprints and trail of discarded items.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist members Yacoub Qadri and Mahmoud Abdullah Arda – the alleged mastermind of the escape – were arrested Friday night in Nazareth after having asked Nazareth residents for food, Hebrew-language media reported. The requests were rejected and the Nazareth residents called police.

When captured, neither Qadri nor the senior al-Arda resisted arrested.

Zakaria Zubeidi, a top commander in the Fatah-linked Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist group, and Mohammad Qassem Arda, a PIJ member and younger brother of the alleged escape plan mastermind, were captured early Saturday near the northern Israeli town of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam.

The pair had asked a dune buggy driver from a nearby village for a ride; they were turned down and the driver called police as well.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said he won’t celebrate their capture, however, until the last two escapees — Ayham Nayef Kamanji and Munadil Yacoub Nafayat — are caught. “We can celebrate in the end, after we have the sixth [fugitive],” he said.

Both are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, and security officials have warned that either or both could attempt an attack on Israelis following the capture of their four co-escapees.

“We must maintain alertness,” Shabtai said. “These are people in a situation of despair and are liable to do extreme things.”

Israeli media report that authorities believe at least one of the two may have reached the Palestinian Authority-controlled area of Samaria near Jenin, home to all six of the terrorists.

Israeli forces searched areas near Kfar Yehoshua on Saturday, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from the prison, and the town of Zububa, located northwest of Jenin and close to the border fence between Israel and Samaria.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.