Six Palestinian prisoners, most of them serving life term, escaped Monday morning Gilboa prison, high-security Israeli prison north of occupied territories, after digging a tunnel.
Israeli Prisons Service’s northern commander, Arik Yaacov, said the escapees appeared to have opened an hole from their cell toilet floor to access passages formed by the prison’s construction.
Israeli police and the military had started a search after the escape from Gilboa prison in northern Israel.
The prisoners were identified as:
Mahmoud Abdallah Arda, 46, from Arraba town near Jenin, arrested in 1996 and serving a life sentence.
Mohammad Qassem Arda, 39, from Arraba, arrested in 2002 and serving a life sentence.
Yacoub Mahmoud Qaderi, 49, from Beir al-Basha near Jenin, arrested in 2003 and serving a life sentence.
Nayef Kamamji, 35, from Kufr Dan, near Jenin, arrested in 2006 and serving a life sentence.
Zakaria Zubeidi, 46, from Jenin refugee camp, arrested in 2019 and was not sentenced.
Munadel Yacoub Infeiat, 26, from Yabad near Jenin and arrested in 2019.
The facility, about 4 km (2 miles) from the boundary with the occupied West Bank, is one of the highest-security jails in Israel and houses Palestinians convicted or suspected of anti-Israeli activities, including deadly attacks.
Spokesman for Hamas Movement Fawzi Barhoum hailed the incident saying “This great victory proves again that the will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated.”
Naftali Bennett regretted the “grave incident”. His office said he spoke with Israel’s internal security minister and “emphasised that this is a grave incident that requires an across-the-board effort by the security forces” to find the escapees.