Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett described the escape as a 'grave incident.' The escape came to light at 3.30 in the morning.
Six Palestinian prisoners escaped from one of Israel's most secure prisons leaving Israeli forces embarrassed. In what feels like a scene from the movie Shawshank Redemption, the prisoners used a rusty spoon to escape by digging a hole beneath a sink at the Gilboa prison. Israeli security forces have since launched a massive search operation spreading across northern Israel and the occupied West Bank, reported The Guardian. The six prisoners who escaped included five members of Islamic Jihad and a high-profile leader from al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade. They had shared a cell at Gilboa prison and reportedly found a flaw in the structural design which enabled them to exploit a gap beneath the sink. The men had evaded 40 prison guards, three watchtowers, two walls, two barbed-wire fences, and a pack of sniffer dogs, reported The New York Times. The high-profile nature of the prisoners caused added embarrassment to the Israeli authorities with Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett describing the escape as a “grave incident.” Bennett said he was receiving constant updates on the prison break.
Initial reports suggested they had dug their way out using a tunnel, but the officials from Israel prisons service confirmed they had explored a flaw in the design to escape. There have been no reports of Palestinian security prisoners ever breaking out of Israeli jails, making the escape even more daring. “From our initial investigation, it appears that there was no digging; rather, a plate that covered the space was lifted out of place,” said Katy Perry, the commissioner of the Israel prisons service. The escape was discovered at 3 am Monday morning. The escape happened just hours before the Jewish new year celebrations.
Palestinians in #Gaza & in all Palestinian cities celebrate the heroic prison-break of six Palestinian freedom fighters from an Israeli jail this morning.— Friends of Palestine 🇵🇸 (@PalFriends2020) September 6, 2021
Those freedom fighters had life-term sentences for their defending of their lands from the #IsraeliOccupation. pic.twitter.com/B0J1TjENBH
Israel’s public security minister Omer Barlev said they probably had external assistance and added that they would have already reached the West Bank following the escape at night. “There was very precise planning, very detailed, and therefore there was probably external assistance. We’re examining [it] at the moment," said Omer Barlev, before he vowed to 'catch the fugitives.' Reports suggest the escaped prisoners are likely to head for Jenin, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority doesn't have much control. Militants in the region have clashed with Israeli forces in recent times. Israeli helicopters were seen flying over Jenin on Monday morning, potentially in search of the prisoners.
6 Palestinian political prisoners managed to escape a high-security Israeli jail this morning. I am going to bed with a smile on my face and dreaming of the day all prisons are abolished. ❤️— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) September 6, 2021
The Israeli authorities released images of the hole they dug in the wall beneath a sink. They were allegedly able to reach the prison’s drainage system. Israeli authorities said they had erected roadblocks and were conducting patrols in the area in the hope of nabbing the escaped prisoners. In the meantime, 400 other prisoners in the jail were being moved to prevent further escape attempts. Israeli media reported that prisoners had spent months digging a tunnel using a spoon hidden in their prison cell and even published an image of Israeli security personnel inspecting a hole in the ground.
6 Palestinian political prisoners - 4 of them given multiple life sentences- escaped from one of Israel’s most fortified prisons using a spoon to dig a hole in a bathroom. It’s an extraordinary feat, a cause for celebration & a big middle finger to the occupying colonising state pic.twitter.com/oxaykUiGKK— لينة (@LinahAlsaafin) September 6, 2021
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which represents former and current prisoners, the escaped men included Zakaria Zubeidi, a 46-year-old leader in al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated with the Fatah movement, during the second Palestinian uprising more than 20 years ago. He had been in jail since 2019 for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder. The Palestinian Prisoners Club stated that the men who escaped were ranging in age from 26 to 49 years old. Four escaped prisoners were serving life sentences, said the prisoners’ group.
The daring escape was celebrated by Palestinian outfits and online. “This is a great heroic act, which will cause a severe shock to the Israeli security system and will constitute a severe blow to the army and the entire system in Israel,” said Daoud Shehab, a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad. The Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, said the escape showed “that the struggle for freedom with the occupier is continuous and extended, inside prisons and outside to extract this right”.