Before dawn, the Israel Prison Service said the first alert went off around 3am local time (midnight in Lisbon), while residents claimed to have seen “suspicious people” near Gilboa Prison (North), where they are being held. hundreds of Palestinians.
The same services indicated that they are transporting about 400 prisoners from Gilboa, who are being held for “security crimes”, to prevent them from escaping through other tunnels that may have been dug.
The rare elation occurs on the same day that Israel begins the Jewish holiday season, which begins tonight with the New Year.
The Israeli police launched a massive manhunt, and the army provided the means for aerial surveillance and prepared forces to intervene if necessary in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
One of the fugitives, Zakaria al-Zubaidi, commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, was in that large West Bank city.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described the evasion as a “very serious incident” and indicated that he was monitoring the search for the fugitives in real time.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which rules the Gaza Strip, and Islamic Jihad, one of the main Palestinian armed groups, welcomed the evasion.
“It is a heroic and brave act, a victory for the will and determination of our heroic prisoners, and a real setback for the Zionist security system that the occupation presents as the best in the world,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Quoted in a press release.
Gilboa’s maximum security prison began operating in 2004, amid a wave of attacks linked to the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising from 2000 to 2005.
Monday’s evasion comes after bloody confrontations took place in recent months between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, specifically in the town of Beita and in the Jenin refugee camp, the center of Palestinian protests.
Moreover, in recent weeks, there have also been rare protests against Abbas’s leadership, as well as demonstrations along the separation wall that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip.
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