Manhunt Underway After 6 Palestinians Escape Israeli Prison

JERUSALEM — Six Palestinian prisoners escaped a jail in northern Israel early Monday morning, within the first such jailbreak in additional than 20 years, the jail service stated Monday.

The six males broke free at roughly 1 a.m. after eradicating a layer of flooring beneath a cell within the Gilboa jail, southwest of the ocean of Galilee, in response to the jail service commissioner, Katy Perry. That allowed them to entry a cavity beneath the jail, via which they had been in a position to escape.

The jail service stated 5 of the boys had been members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant Islamist group, whereas the sixth, Zakaria Zubeidi, was a former commander of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a militant group loosely related to Fatah, the secular get together that dominates the Palestinian Authority.

Four of the six had been convicted of terror offenses and had been serving no less than two life sentences, the service stated. Legal proceedings for the opposite two, together with Mr. Zubeidi, essentially the most broadly identified of the escapees, had but to be accomplished.

Their jailbreak prompted a large-scale manhunt involving a number of authorities companies, together with the Israeli Army, although by Monday night the fugitives remained at massive.

The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, and the minister for inside safety, Omer Bar-Lev, each described the escape as a “serious incident.” It was the primary Palestinian jailbreak of this scale since 1998, a jail service spokesperson stated.

Police officers inspecting the opening the prisoners reportedly used to flee from the jail on Monday. Credit…Gil Eliyahu/Reuters

The fugitives had been hailed by a number of Palestinian teams, who noticed their escape as a symbolic problem to Israeli occupation. In an announcement, the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhala, stated that the fugitives “teach us that anything is possible with strong will and patience, and that defeating the enemy is closer than ever.”

The prisoners had been amongst roughly 5,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, often for alleged militant exercise. The Israeli authorities additionally maintain the corpses of a number of dozen Palestinian detainees, declining to launch them for burial with a view to deter different militants and as a way of exerting stress on Hamas, the militant group within the Gaza Strip, which is believed to carry the corpses of two slain Israeli troopers.

Over the course of the Israeli-Palestinian battle, Israel has exchanged hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and our bodies for a number of dozen Israeli prisoners and our bodies, and sometimes granted amnesty to others.

Mr. Zubeidi had been launched in an amnesty in 2007. Based in Jenin, a metropolis within the northern West Bank, he was a distinguished militant chief within the second intifada, or rebellion, throughout the 2000s, and have become certainly one of Israel’s most-wanted fugitives. About 1,000 Israelis had been killed throughout the rebellion and roughly three,000 Palestinians — together with, Mr. Zubeidi has stated, his mom and brother.

After being granted clemency, he renounced violence and turned to political theater, which he portrayed as a type of cultural resistance to Israeli occupation. He later turned a pacesetter of the Freedom Theater in Jenin.

But in 2011, the Israeli information media reported that his amnesty had been revoked, and in 2012 he was detained for a number of months by the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Zubeidi was rearrested in 2019 by the Israeli authorities, who accused him of returning to militancy and of involvement in latest West Bank violence, together with tried homicide. He was held in Gilboa jail pending a verdict in his trial.

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.