Umm Muhammed Umar
There is manhunt underway after 6 cell mates tunnelled their way out of Gilboa prison in northern Israel, using a rusted spoon. The Middle East Eye reports that six Palestinian, said to be freedom fighters, escaped from a high-security Israeli prison on Monday. Five of the escapees reportedly belonged to the Islamic Jihad movement and one was a former commander of the Fatah party’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Four of the men were serving life sentences, while three had reportedly previously tried to escape, unsuccessfully.
Israel Prison Services said the escapees appeared to have opened a hole from their cell toilet floor to access routes created by the prison’s construction.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reports that officials have described the breach as “a major security and intelligence failure”. Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, said the hunt to find the escapees, “requires an across-the-board effort by the security forces.” It reported that the prisoners were found missing during a head count. The tunnel exit, covered by foliage, was later discovered a few metres outside the prison walls. According to Haaretz, Shin Bet claimed that the men had communicated with people outside the prison using a smuggled cell phone. There had allegedly been an escape car waiting for them. But MME reports that, according to Ynet news, the first call to police was made at 1.49am by a driver who had seen figures running in the fields.
The Palestinian Authority warned that any retaliation against the six escapees, if captured by Israeli authorities, would result in “a real explosion inside and outside prisons”. Meanwhile, the more than 400 other prisoners of Gilboa jail, have been transferred to unknown destinations following Mondays daring escape.
In the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad supporters celebrated. Official, Khamees El-Haitham, said, “Today, Islamic Jihad heroes achieved a new victory in the Gilboa prison. This victory smashed the image of the occupier.” Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, meanwhile, said, “This great victory proves again that the will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated.”