JERUSALEM — Six Palestinian prisoners escaped prison in Northern Israel early Monday morning, in the first such a jailbreak in more than two decades, the prison service said Monday.
The six men broke loose at about 1am after removing a layer of floor under a cell in the Gilboa prison, southwest of the sea of Galilee, according to the prison service commissioner, Katy Perry. That put them in stands for access a cavity under the prison, which is why she in were able to escape.
The prison service said five of the men were members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant Islamist group, while the sixth, Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a militant group loosely associated with Fatah, the secular one party die the Palestinian Authority dominates.
four of the six was convicted of terror violations and served at least two life sentences, the service said. Legal Processes for the other two, including Mr Zubeidi, the most famous of the escapees, had yet to be completed.
Their escape from prison sparked a large-scale manhunt in which several government agencies, including the Israeli army, although the fugitives were still at large Monday night.
The prime minister, Naphtali Bennett, and the minister for internal security, Omer Bar-Lev, both described the escape as a ‘serious incident’. It was the first Palestinian jailbreak of this scale since 1998, a prison said a service spokesperson.
The fugitives were greeted by various Palestinian groups, who saw their escape as a symbolic challenge to Israeli occupation. In a statement, the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhala, said the fugitives us that’s all possible with strong will and patience, and that defeating the enemy is closer than ever.”
The prisoners belonged to about 5,000 Palestinians die were detained in Israeli prisons, mostly for alleged militant activities. The Israeli authorities also hold the corpses of several dozen Palestinian prisoners, declining to set them free for funeral in to deter other militants and as a means of exert pressure on Hamas, the militant group in the Gaza Strip, believed to contain the corpses of two murdered Israelis soldiers.
In the course of of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has Israel exchanged thousands of Palestinian prisoners and bodies for several dozen Israeli prisoners and bodies, and occasionally granted amnesty to others.
Mr Zubeidi was released in An amnesty in 2007. Based on in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank, he was… a prominent militant leader in the second intifada, of uprising, during the 2000s, and became one of Israel’s most-wanted fugitives. About 1,000 Israelis were killed during the uprising and about 3,000 Palestinians – including, Mr Zubeidi said, are mother and brother.
After being pardoned, he renounced violence and turned to political theater, which he portrayed as a form of cultural resistance to the Israeli occupation. He later became a leader of the Freedom Theater in jenine.
But in 2011, the Israeli news media reported that his amnesty was withdrawn, and in 2012 he was detained for several months by the Palestinian Authority.
mr. Zubeidi was arrested again in 2019 by the Israeli authorities, who accused him of return to militancy and of involvement in recent violence in the West Bank, including attempted murder. He was detained in Gilboa prison in waiting for a verdict in his process.
Rawan Sheikh Ahmad reported.
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