Six Palestine Prisoners Escape Israeli Jail Through Tunnel, Prompt A Manhunt
republicworld– Israel has launched a manhunt after six Palestinian prisoners tunnelled out of their cell and escaped from one of the country’s high-security facilities overnight. According to AP, the fugitives managed to escape the Gilboa prison, which holds Palestinians convicted or suspected of anti-Israeli activities. The men dug a hole in the floor of their cell, then crawled through a cavity and tunnelled beneath the outer wall.
Now, the prisoners appear to have gone into hiding. Israeli officials were alerted by farmers who noticed them running through fields. The fugitives include a former leader of the militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and five Islamic Jihad members. The authorities said that they have erected roadblocks and are also conducting patrols in the area in a bid to find the prisoners. Additionally, the officials have also moved nearly 400 prisoners as a protective measure against any additional escape attempts.
Arik Yaacov, a prison service’s commander, said that the prisoners appeared to have opened a hole from their cell toilet floor to give them access to passages formed during the jail’s construction. AP pictures showed a narrow hole in the floor of a cell. In the images, Israeli forces are seen examining a similar hole in a stretch of gravel just outside the walls of the prison.
‘Major security, intelligence failure’
An Israeli Prison Service official described the escape as a “major security and intelligence failure”. Israeli PM Naftali Bennett also called it a “grave incident” that required maximum effort by Israel’s various security branches. Bennett said that he was receiving constant updates on the prison break, which occurred hours before Israel was to mark the Jewish New Year.
Palestinians, on the other hand, celebrated the escape. There was no immediate comment from the PA, however, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party praised the escape. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Islamist militant group Hamas, also called the escape a “great victory” and said that it proves again the “will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated”.
Now, a police spokesman said that the security forces believe that the fugitives might try to reach the West Bank or the Jordanian border. The Prison service informed that while five of the prisoners belong to the Islamic Jihad movement, the sixth escapee, Zakaria Zubeidi, is a former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank city of Jenin. Out of the six, four of them were serving life sentences.