- Six Palestinian inmates at Gilboa prison escaped via tunnel early Monday, reports say.
- Authorities found the tunnel entrance under a toilet in a cell shared by the escapees.
- Officials said they escaped around 3 a.m. in a getaway car organized through a smuggled cellphone.
Six Palestinian inmates tunneled their way out of a high-security Israeli prison early Monday, according to the Israeli government and local news reports.
Authorities at Gilboa prison discovered prisoners were missing during a headcount conducted after a civilian spotted figures running near the prison walls at around 3 a.m., according to Haaretz.
Prison staff later found an entrance to a tunnel under a toilet in a cell shared by the six escaped prisoners, Haaretz reported.
This video shows the tunnel entrance in the cell:
—Josh Breiner (@JoshBreiner) September 6, 2021
Israel’s internal security service said the inmates used a smuggled cellphone to coordinate their escape, and that an escape car was waiting for them outside the prison walls, Haaretz reported.
These photos, shared by the Palestinian news agency Shehab, shows the exit of the tunnel outside the prison:
—وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) September 6, 2021
Israeli authorities are now hunting down the escapees, with the Israel Defense Forces operating road blocks in the West Bank, Haaretz said. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev on Monday to discuss the escape, the government said.
All of those who escaped had been accused or convicted of carrying out attacks against Israel, Haaretz said.
Israel’s prison service told Reuters that five of the fugitives belonged to the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, a militant group.
One escapee, Zakaria Zubeidi, took part in an attack on a Likud party office in 2002 that killed six people, Haaretz said.
Shimon Lavi, a police official, told Haaretz that the 400 prisoners remaining in the prison will be moved elsewhere while they investigate the escape.
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine said the escape was “heroic” and that it will “shock the Israeli defense system,” Haaretz reported.