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Palestinian escapee was close to plea deal release before jailbreak – report

Munadil Nafiyat, charged with weapon sale crimes, could have been set free from Gilboa Prison within months; he was also previously freed in 2011 Shalit deal

Munadil Nafiyat, one of the six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison, attends a remand hearing at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court court, September 19, 2021. (David Cohen/ Flash90)
Munadil Nafiyat, one of the six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison, attends a remand hearing at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court court, September 19, 2021. (David Cohen/ Flash90)

One of the six Palestinian security prisoners who was recaptured Sunday, after escaping from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel nearly two weeks ago, was reportedly close to a plea deal that would have seen his release within months.

Munadil Nafiyat, 26, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and suspected by Israeli authorities to have illegally sold weapons, has been held for nearly two years.

Nafiyat, who was previously released in a 2011 prisoner exchange, was in advanced talks for a plea deal over his weapons crimes, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Sunday.

If the agreement had gone through, Nafayat would have been released within a number of months, the report said.

In a 2011 deal with Hamas, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terror convicts in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been kidnapped in 2006. Several of the convicts, including Nafiyat, were later rearrested over the years.

Nafiyat was previously charged with conspiracy to commit a shooting and entering Israel illegally, the report said.

In the predawn hours of Sunday morning — a week after the four other escaped prisoners were recaptured in northern Israel — Nafiyat and another escapee were caught in the West Bank city of Jenin, bringing the massive 13-day manhunt to a close, following one of the worst jailbreaks in Israel’s history.

The six prisoners escaped from the high-security facility in northern Israel in the predawn hours of September 6, making their way out through their cell’s drainage system and an empty space underneath the prison in one of the most severe prison breaks in the country’s history, which prompted a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the West Bank.

The escape is considered one of the worst jailbreaks in Israel’s history and the prisons service has faced significant criticism in the wake of the incident, with a reported series of blunders having enabled the six to escape, including unmanned watchtowers and sleeping guards.

Five of the fugitives were members of the Islamic Jihad terror group. They were charged with various terror-related crimes, from illegal weapons trade, to kidnapping and murder. Zubeidi, a commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group, was in prison while on trial for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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