Six Palestinian prisoners, including the former leader of an armed group, escaped from a maximum security prison in Israel on Monday (6) through a tunnel dug in their cell.
Israeli police and soldiers began a hunt in the region of the Gilboa penitentiary, in the north of the country, after an alert issued at 3:00 am local time (21:00 pm on Sunday in Brasília). Checkpoints, sniffer dogs and means of aerial observation were mobilized.
The prison is just 4 km from the West Bank and 14 km from the Jordan border, possible destinations for the fugitives, according to a police spokesman, who said the former inmates had dug a tunnel in the floor of the cell’s bathroom. . The remaining 400 prisoners from Gilboa were relocated after the episode, given the possibility that other tunnels were opened.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said it was a “serious incident that requires a collective effort by the security forces.” Five of the fugitives are militants of the Islamic Jihad faction. The other was identified as Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian factions celebrated the flight. Hamas, the Islamic group that governs the Gaza Strip, called the flight a “courageous and heroic act”.
Four of the fugitives were serving a life sentence after being convicted of planning or carrying out attacks. Another was held under a special detention order, and the sixth fugitive had yet to be convicted. The escape took place just hours before the start, in Israel, at sunset this Monday, of the feasts of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.