A Rare Humiliation: How did 6 Palestinians Escape a High-Security Israeli Prison?

In a rare moment of humiliation for the Israeli establishment, six Palestinian prisoners broke out of the high-security Gilboa prison through a hole they dug that led them underneath the outer wall of the prison. Farmers in the nearby fields notified the authorities that suspicious looking individuals were in the vicinity, and a manhunt was launched, as the full arsenal of Israeli security was unleashed upon them with an army mission, aerial drones, and checkpoints. Palestinian militants deemed this as a historic victory against the Israeli establishment, whilst an Israel Prison Service official considered this to be a “major security and intelligence failure.” An investigation is currently being held as the escape continues to baffle Israeli security, and some reports claim that the guard may have fallen asleep during the breakout.

The Shawshank Redemption

After a headcount was conducted by the prison staff, it was soon learned that six prisoners had been unaccounted for. Soon after, it was revealed that they had dug a hole on the floor of their bathroom using a spoon that was hidden away behind a poster.

Via BBC

The prisoners made their way out of the prison through the hole, then dug a tunnel that led to a dirt road outside the prison. Israeli forces and border police quickly set up roadblocks in order to prevent the escaped prisoners from entering the occupied West Bank and Jordan, which lies only 14km east of the high-security prison.

Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, stated that this prison escape symbolized a major victory for the Palestinian people, adding that the will and perseverance of the “brave soldiers” held within Israeli prisons “cannot be defeated.” According to reports, four of the Palestinian prisoners had currently been serving life sentences, the fifth one had been incarcerated for two years without charge under an “administrative detention order,” and Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander for the Palestinian militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, is still standing trial. At the moment, four of the six prisoners have been recaptured.

Gilboa prison

Situated North of Palestine, Gilboa prison was established in 2004, and is considered to be one of the most highly-secured prisons where Israeli authorities confine Palestinian prisoners. According to Haaretz, the blueprint of the prison had previously been published online by the architecture firm that contributed to the construction of Gilboa prison, and was accessible to the public. It’s possible that the inmates may have used this to their advantage to conduct their escape, but this has yet to be verified. Meanwhile, in response to this matter, a senior Israel Prison official stated that publishing such information online is in itself a serious “security oversight,” adding that documents showcasing the construction of a “prison housing security prisoners” is a grave failure by the Israel Prison Service.

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