Six Palestinian prisoners in daring break out of Israel jail

Six Palestinian prisoners in daring break out of high-security Israeli jail
2 min read
06 September, 2021
The prisoners escaped from the Gilboa prison overnight, which is supposed to be one of Israel's most secure facilities.
The six escaped via a tunnel leading outside the Gilboa Prison walls [Getty]

Six Palestinians prisoners, mostly serving life terms, escaped early on Monday from a high-security prison in northern Israel after digging a tunnel dug beneath a sink.

The six escaped via a tunnel leading outside the Gilboa Prison walls, which they had managed to dig over the past few months, the prison officials said, adding that the men shared a cell.

Their breakout was not detected until hours later during a 4 am headcount, according to a statement from the Israel Prison Service.

Local farmers had also altered authorities at around 3 am after spotting "suspicious figures" on their land, police said.

The prison service released a video that appeared to show a narrow tunnel dug beneath a sink.

The IPS confirmed the escapees included Zakaria Zubeidi, a prominent Palestinian leader from the flashpoint city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

He was the former head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and a well-known figure among Palestinians and Israelis.

A large search operation was launched involving police, the army, and special forces, according to a statement from police. 

Sniffer dogs and aerial assets were used in the search and checkpoints set up in the surrounding area.

The army said its forces were "prepared and deployed" in the West Bank as part of the operation.

IPS is preparing to evacuate the remaining prisoners, around 400 people, and disperse them across other prisons in order to investigate the escape, a statement said.

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the escape "a serious incident" and said he was receiving regular updates about the search.

In a statement made shortly after the incident, the Islamic Jihad called the escape "heroic" and added that it will  "shock the Israeli defence system".

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum praised the escapees saying "the escape proves the bravery of these prisoners, achieving freedom despite such strict security measures. It's a heroic and impressive action". 

Fatah spokesperson Munir al-Jaghoub celebrated the escape saying "the dream of freedom is shared by all prisoners… these six heroes managed to break this system".