Tensions Soar Over Prison Escape

Israeli soldiers and police are on high alert due to concerns about widespread violence today, Friday 10th September, following Friday prayers among the Muslim population.

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions have called for a ‘day of rage’ in protest at Israel’s decision to transfer security prisoners to other prisons following an escape by six earlier this week.

Those six escaped from Israel’s high-security Gilboa Prison in the early hours of Monday morning, making their way out through their cell’s drainage system. It is one of the most serious prison escapes in Israel’s history and has prompted a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the West Bank.

Four of the six fugitives had received life sentences for involvement in terrorist attacks. A fifth is a notorious commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, in prison for two dozen crimes that include attempted murder. The sixth was held in administrative detention.

The initial findings of the Prison Service’s investigation into the escape noted that authorities failed to reinforce the floors in the shower area despite a similar escape attempt in 2014.

The six prisoners escaped by digging a tunnel from their cell’s shower basin and then making their way out through the prison’s drainage system.

Alon Eviatar, an Israeli expert in Palestinian Affairs, says the most important thing for the security forces is patience. He also believes the most likely location of the escapees is still Jenin.