Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah officials and organs welcomed the news of the six Palestinians who escaped from Israel's Gilboa prison. The six are Zakariya Al-Zubeidi, member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council and the commander of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in Jenin, and five members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All were responsible for shooting and suicide attacks in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed. The officials congratulated the six on their escape, presenting it as their right, and threatened Israel not to harm them despite the gravity of the actions of which they were convicted.
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said that "every prisoner wishes for freedom, and is entitled to seek any means of attaining it. We demand that Israel release all the prisoners, especially those who are ill, and the women and children, and hold it fully responsible for the lives of the six [escaped] prisoners…”
Fatah spokesperson Osama Al-Qawasmi stated that Fatah "is proud of the heroic prisoners," emphasizing that they were "completely within their rights to take their freedom by force," for "their natural place is with their families and people… not in the prison of the Israeli occupation." Fatah's Revolutionary Council, headed by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, of which Zakariya Al-Zubeidi is a member, issued a similar statement, expressing "pride that the fighter Zakariya Al-Zubeidi and his companions broke the shackles of prison" and "took their freedom by force," and calling their escape "a great national victory." Fatah's Information Commission said in a statement that "the prisoners are the best of our sons and the jewel in the Palestinian people's crown," and warned Israel that "harming the lives of the heroic prisoners who realized their sacred right to freedom" would have "consequences." The Commission for Prisoners and Released Prisoners Affairs issued a statement holding Israel responsible for the lives of the six, adding that "harming their lives, if they are found, will lead to a real explosion, [both] inside and outside the prisons…" Wishing the fugitives "health and security," the commission called on the international community to realize its duty of protecting them, should they be found by the Israeli authorities.''"5]
The PA dailies also published many articles praising the escape of the "heroic" prisoners. An article by columnist 'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, who was an advisor to former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, urged the Palestinian people to shield the fugitives, help them hide, provide them with shelter, food and medicine, assist their families, and refrain from providing any information that might lead to their capture.
Cartoon in PA daily: prisoners' escape from Gilboa prison a punch in the face of the Israeli army (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA, September 7, 2021)
The following are translated excerpts from his article:
"The heroes of the Gilboa prison tunnel, who breathed the winds of freedom as dawn broke last Monday, on September 6, 2021, desperately need the help and support of every patriotic Palestinian who wishes to defend these glorious heroes: Zakariya [Al-Zubeidi], Mahmoud [Al-'Arida], Ya'qoub [Qadiri], Muhammad [Qassem Al-'Arida], Ayham [Kamamji] and Munadil [Nafi'at] from the Israeli security apparatuses. [These apparatuses] have deployed across the occupied homeland and especially in the [West] Bank in order to search for the fortunate eagles of freedom, who delivered a resounding slap to the entire [Israeli] security establishment and to the arrogance of Israel, which bragged of its fortified bastion, the impenetrable Gilboa prison…
"[Therefore,] all of us, without exception, must:
"1. Extend unlimited assistance to each and every one of [the fugitives] if he should knock on the door seeking shelter from a night patrol of the colonialist Zionists or needing transportation, clothes, water or medicine.
"2. We must not chatter about them and their whereabouts, or provide any detail about them to anyone – [even] in the family, the neighborhood or at work, no matter how trustworthy we consider the Palestinian element [to whom we are speaking]. We must not refer to them over the mobile phone, except to praise their bravery and the magnitude of their struggle.
"3. Media people must stop discussing what they may have heard from others about any or all of [the fugitives].
"4. We must not mention any location – city, refugee camp, ruin, street, field or vehicle – they were seen in, or anyone who had information on those prisoners of freedom, from a primary or secondary [source].
"5. We must be on the alert for spies, agents and the like and refuse to speak to them about the knights of Gilboa [prison], completely changing the subject [if it comes up].
"6. We must stop sharing, on social media and in circles [that shape] Palestinian public opinion, the slanted and inciting rumors that Hamas members are spreading about [Palestinian Authority] security personnel, and note the dangerous effect of this on the people.
"7. We must act to strengthen and reinforce [our] unity on the social, political and security [levels] as part of the solidarity among Palestinians, putting behind us any disagreements and any actions that polarize the people.
"8. It is necessary to support the families of the eagles of freedom as much as possible if they find themselves targeted or persecuted by the Israeli security forces.
"9. If any citizen – man, woman or child – is summoned for interrogation by the intelligence officers of the Israeli enemy, or if anyone connected with the heroes is arrested, they should categorically refuse to say anything about them and refrain from providing any detail, even if it appears trifling.
"10. More than anything else, the brave knights of Gilboa [prison] must not take lightly [the issue of] defending themselves. They must take every necessary precaution to remain concealed from the enemies and their ilk.
"11. [The fugitives] must not use mobile phones or accesses the internet or social media. They must communicate [only] verbally, directly or indirectly, and keep communications to a minimum, [speaking only] to a small set of people whom they trust and regard as the circle that will truly protect them.
"12. They must stay away from representatives of the media, no matter who they are, and strictly refrain from providing information on their condition, their escape, or their means of transport from place to place. They must not respond to the campaign of deception that the occupation and its are is conducting or will conduct among the [Palestinian] people.
"13. They must not all stay in the same place. They must break up and change their hideouts from time to time, while being very cautious in moving between them and giving careful thought to the place and time.
"14. In choosing their hideouts they must avoid emotional [considerations] and plan how to defend themselves and where to stay.
"There are many other means and moves that the people must take in order to protect themselves, individually and collectively, and in order to keep the occupation from harming the generals of honor and giving [i.e., the fugitives]. The masses, one and all, must form a shield for the freedom fighters, because their successful evasion of the hangmen… is a victory for the people, the [Palestinian] cause, the homeland and [our] national goals and principles."
 Facebook.com/Dr.Shtayyah, September 8, 2021.
 Wafa.ps, September 7, 2021. The spokesman of Fatah's Recruitment and Organization Commission, Munir Al-Jaghoub, also congratulated the "heroic prisoners" in a series of tweets. Twitter.com/MonirAljaghoub, September 6, 2021.
 Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 7, 2021.
 Wafa.ps, September 9, 2021.
 Cda.gov.ps, September 6, 2021.
 See e.g., Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), September 7, 9, 2021.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), Septepber 9, 2021.
 The reference is to claims by elements close to Hamas that the PA and its security apparatuses are helping Israel in its hunt for the six fugitives. Elaph.com, September 8, 2021.