- BBC News World
The high security prison where they were held was called by some as “the safe”, but they managed to escape.
Six Palestinian militants who were held in the Israeli prison of Gilboa escaped this Monday at dawn, putting the police authorities on alert who began a frantic search.
The security operation includes dozens of road checkpoints, as well as the use of drones and specialized search units with trained dogs.
According to the Israeli press, the group of escapees is made up of a former leader of the Martyrs Brigades of Al Aqsa and five members of the Jihad Istraw.
Four of them were serving life sentences for planning or executing deadly attacks against Israelis and another was under a special arrest warrant, Reuters reported.
The sixth, Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was awaiting sentencing after being arrested and tried in 2019 for his alleged involvement in attacks against citizens of Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftalí Bennet said in a statement that this is “a serious incident which will require the joint effort of all our security forces. “
Islamic Jihad and Hamas, for their part, referred to the episode as a “heroic” act, executed by Palestinian militants.
But how did this escape from a high security prison come about?
Digging with a spoon?
According to initial investigations, the six fugitives shared a cell and at least three of them had been classified in the past as having a “high escape risk”.
It is believed that the escapees they managed to escape by opening a hole in the bathroom floor of the cell they shared and digging a tunnel that apparently led to a field just outside the prison walls.
Images and videos released by the Israeli press show officials inspecting a small hole under a sink and another in the middle of a vacant lot next to the prison walls.
According to Jerusalem Post, the Palestinians they would have used a rusty spoon to dig hiding behind a poster. This task would have required at least two months.
Arik Yaacov, one of the heads of the Israel Prison Service, said that after leaving his cell through a hole, the fugitives used underground passages that were formed during the construction of the prison to escape from it.
In any case, there are still many questions to be clarified.
Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, has indicated that he believes that the escapees had been in contact with people outside the prison using a cell phone that they had managed to smuggle into the facility.
The Shin Bet also said that there was someone with a car who picked up the fugitives once they fled and transferred them to another location away from the prison.
According to the newspaper Haaretz, a security source said that a guard who was stationed in the watchtower right by the area through which the fugitives escaped she admitted to falling asleep during her shift.
It is clear that there are still many questions to answer about this episode that an official of the Israeli Prison Service, quoted by the newspaper Haaretz, described as a “serious security and intelligence failure.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.