Israel desperately searches for Palestinian escapees

Embarrassed Israel in desperate bid to find Palestinian detainees after daring prison escape
3 min read
06 September, 2021
Israel is worried the Palestinian detainees may attempt to flee to neighbouring Jordan and raised the alarm across the occupied territories.
Israel's Gilboa Prison is a high-security jail [Amir Levy/Getty]

Israeli security is desperately searching for a group of Palestinian detainees following their daring breakout from a high-security jail early on Monday.

Israel has alleged the six men, who were being held in Israel's high-security Gilboa Prison, might attempt to flee to neighbouring Jordan, according to Haaretz on Monday morning.

Police operations chief Avi Biton said Israel's security alert had been raised over alleged concerns the six men could "conduct attacks", the nation's Channel 13 reported.

The six men are believed to be still in Israel and Israeli forces are following the movement of one vehicle of interest, Haaretz said earlier.

Helicopters have also been spotted in the Jenin area, according to some of the occupied West Bank, the city in the occupied West Bank the detainees are from, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

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The situation has been called "a major security and intelligence failure" by a figure in Israel's prison authority.

Among the escapees are three who were in the past considered "high flight risk[s]", Haaretz said.

One of the six is an ex-Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade local chief, Zakaria Zubeidi, a prominent Palestinian leader from the flashpoint city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

In the West Bank, the Israeli army is using checkpoints to try and prevent the six Palestinians reaching Jordan.

The north of Israel has seen 24 checkpoints erected, while domestic intelligence agency Shabak, plus troops and police, have also been tasked with helping to locate the wanted men.

The escapees located an open space below their cell, which was described as a "structural flaw" by Shimon Lavi, the chief of Israel Police's Northern District.

The six escaped through a tunnel dug in recent months under a cell toilet, according to prison authorities.

The escapees appear to have all lived in the same cell.

Shabak claimed the detainees were working with others outside the jail due to a mobile phone believed to have been smuggled into the prison and a car waiting for them during their escape.

"[T]he dream of freedom is shared by all prisoners… these six heroes managed to break this system," Munir Al-Jaghoub, a spokesman for the Palestinian faction Fatah, explained.

Israeli premier Naftali Bennett asserted: "This is a serious incident which will require joint efforts by the entirety of our security forces."

Israel conducted another wave of arrests in the occupied West Bank Monday, detaining ten Palestinians including two minors, WAFA news agency reported. It is not thought this was related to the prison escape.

Israel has detained thousands of Palestinians - including children - often without charge.

The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) reported on Monday that there are 200 children among 4,650 Palestinians detained by Israel.