Had same thing happen - could not open hatch
I pulled back the plastic cover as far as possible (few inches) from the inside without the door opening, you can only get to certain screws.
Then reached down inside to the lock mechanism and pulled and pushed until it unlocked. now you will be able to take the rest of the door backing off and get in there. I cleaned everything then covered everything with grease, then tightened everything that could be inside and outside the handle. That was about two years ago and not one problem since.
I wonder were that dirt road goes?
'89 YJ 4 banger all stock, replacing all the worn out guts first, 97 grand cherokee limited