Six Palestinian prisoners escaped from one of the country’s most secure prisons overnight, prompting Israeli police to initiate a manhunt. The men are thought to have excavated a hole in their cell’s floor. Then, they crawled through a cavity and tunneled beneath the outer wall of Gilboa jail. Farmers who observed them racing through fields alerted officials.
A former commander of the extremist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and five members of the Islamic Jihad group are among the fugitives. The escape was noted as a “serious security and intelligence failure” by an officer with the Israel Prison Service. It was also lauded as “heroic” by Palestinian militant forces.
Authorities received complaints from local farmers
Authorities received complaints from local farmers about “suspicious figures” in neighboring agricultural fields. Thereby, raising the alarm at Gilboa Prison, a high-security facility in northern Israel known as “The Safe”. Six Palestinian prisoners were missing when prison staff conducted a headcount at 04:00 (01:00 GMT).
Six Palestinian prisoners escaped the jail through their shared cell by excavating a hole through the washroom floor. According to the Jerusalem Post, they likewise utilized a rusted spoon hidden behind a poster.
The hole led to a hollow place beneath the prison. It was created when piles were lowered into the ground during construction. An Israeli police commander identified it as a ‘structural flaw’. The inmates have likely traveled through the space to reach the prison’s outside wall. Then created a tunnel that led to a dirt road just beyond.
The Shin Bet security organization stated that a car picked up inmates. Also, it is after making contact with persons outside the prison using a smuggled cellphone.
Four members were serving the life sentence
Zakaria Zubeidi is a former commander of the Palestinian militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin. Also, five members of the Islamic Jihad group, are among the six fugitives.
According to Israeli media, four members of the Islamic Jihad group have life sentences after being guilty of planning or carrying out assaults that murdered Israelis; while the fifth was not under trial for two years under a so-called administrative detention order.
Israeli forces caught Zubeidi in 2019. It was on suspicion of involvement in several gunshot assaults, and he is currently on trial.
Israeli border police and also army personnel involved in the manhunt have built roadblocks to prevent the guys from reaching the surrounding occupied West Bank or Jordan. It is around 14 kilometers (nine miles) east of Gilboa jail.
To find the fugitives, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett likewise spoke with Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and; “emphasized that this is a grave incident that requires an across-the-board effort by the security forces”
Islamic Jihad described the jailbreak as “heroic” and said it would “shock the Israeli defense system”. Also, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was a “great victory” that proves “the will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated”.