Israeli prison official: “The fugitives have together been responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis”
The Israeli police and security services have launched a massive search for six Palestinian terrorists who escaped from a high-security prison.
On Monday evening, six terrorists, including five members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a high-profile terror operative from PLO-Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, escaped through a tunnel that began from their cell. These convicted terrorists have blood on their hands. “The fugitives have together been responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis,” The Jerusalem Post noted.
The escape from the Israeli maximum security prison appears to have been meticulously planned, and the fugitives reportedly had help from outside. “It’s clear that they did not do it by digging, but rather lifted a cover and used the space in their cell,” a senior Israeli prison official said.
The Times of Israel reported the terrorist prison break:
Six Palestinian security prisoners escaped from a high-security prison in northern Israel in the predawn hours of Monday morning, tunneling their way out through their cell’s drainage system in one of the worst prison breaks in the country’s history and prompting a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the West Bank, security services said.
Large numbers of police forces were called to the area around Gilboa Prison, located northwest of Beit She’an, near the Sea of Galilee, and were searching for the six fugitives with the help of drones and helicopters. The military and Shin Bet were also helping search for the suspects, and checkpoints were put up in the area.
Four of the six fugitives were in jail for life in connection with deadly attacks against Israelis; the fifth — a notorious commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group, Zakaria Zubeidi — was in prison while on trial for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder. Another was held in administrative detention. All six were considered highly dangerous.
The Palestinian population and terrorist organizations cheered the news of notorious terrorists escaping Israeli prison.
Gaza-based Hamas called it a “day of joy.” The Palestinian Islamic Jihad called the prison break by some of its most notorious terror operatives “a great heroic act.” The ‘moderate’ Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, hailed the “tunnel of freedom” that helped one of its top masterminds escape Israeli prison.
Palestinians towns held joyous processions and passersby received sweets to celebrate the incident.
The Israeli TV channel i24News reported the celebrations among Palestinians over the escape:
Palestinian groups celebrated the escape of six inmates from the Gilboa high security prison in northern Israel on Monday evening, calling the escape “heroic” and urging Palestinian civilians to help the convicts to continue to evade Israeli authorities.
In cities of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians honked their horns, waved flags and handed out candy to mark the occasion.
“This is a great heroic act, which will cause a severe shock to the Israeli security system,” said Daoud Shehab, spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad: the Gazan organization to which five out of the six escapees are affiliated.
Hundreds of supporters gathered in Gaza, and militants sent incendiary balloons across the border into Israel in support of escaped prisoners. Israeli authorities said three fires were started by the balloons, but were quickly extinguished.
Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Hamas movement that rules Gaza, said the escape shows “that the struggle for the liberation of the occupier is continuous and extensive, inside and outside prisons.”
Hamas officials have urged Palestinians to provide assistance to the escapees by ensuring that further escapes will take place. Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official, called the day “a day of joy and pride, when the Palestinians hold their heads up high.”
The Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also hailed the escape. An official Twitter account posted photos and videos of Fatah’s most famous escapee, Zakaria Zubeidi, including with Abbas, and hailed what he called the “tunnel of freedom.”
Residents of the West Bank town of Beita celebrate the escape of six militants early Monday from an Israeli prison. pic.twitter.com/Sur2iDk98w
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) September 6, 2021
The Jerusalem Post reported details of the manhunt underway to catch the terrorists:
Police, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Border Police and troops from two IDF companies as well as Special Forces are taking part in the manhunt, and have placed some 200 roadblocks throughout the country to catch the escapees. Security forces are also utilizing special units in the search involving dogs and aerial support.
“Our goal is to catch and arrest them – as long as there is a possibility that they are in Israel,” he said.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that troops in the West Bank have been alerted to the escape and are on high alert.
Amid this large-scale manhunt, some news reports suggest that the terrorists may have succeeded in fleeing the country. “It is believed that by now, the terrorists are deep within territory belonging to the Palestinian Authority, and that they are likely to make their way from there to Jordan,” the Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva reported.DONATE
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