Gilboa Prison Escape: Israel Arrests Last Two Escaped Prisoners

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Gilboa Prison

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Gilboa Prison is one of the most secure and guarded prisons in Israel

The Israeli army announced the arrest of the last two prisoners, among the six prisoners who participated in the escape, from Gilboa Maximum Security Prison, about two weeks ago.

He explained that the two prisoners, Ayham Kammaji and Munadil Nafe’at, who are members of the Islamic Jihad organization, were re-arrested after they were surrounded by Israeli security forces near the city of Jenin in the West Bank.

The Israeli authorities decided to hold a court session for them within hours of their arrest.

The Israeli forces arrested the remaining four last week, days after they suddenly succeeded in escaping from prison.

The Magistrate’s Court in the city of Nazareth requested the extension of the detention of the four detainees, who are “Mahmoud Al-Ardah, Yaqoub Qadri, Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, and Muhammad Al-Ardah, pending investigation.”

The Israeli authorities began investigating how this operation succeeded despite the strict security measures in the prison.

On Saturday, the city of Jenin witnessed clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators, but the Israeli forces confirmed that the two prisoners were arrested without resistance.

Media reports quoted the father of one of the prisoners as saying that his son had agreed to surrender, in order not to endanger the life and property of the owners of the house.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the process of re-arresting the fugitives was impressive, adding that it was “quick, accurate and complex.”

Bennett stressed that “mistakes that occurred can be fixed.”

The end of the tunnel through which the prisoners escaped

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The prisoners escaped through a tunnel they dug under the prison over a period of several months

In separate statements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad held Israel “fully responsible for the safety of the six Palestinian detainees, who were recently re-arrested after they managed to escape from prison.”

In its statement, Islamic Jihad called on “the military wings of the Palestinian factions to remain in a state of high alertness and readiness.”

The prisoners escaped through a tunnel they dug under the prison over a period of several months.

It is believed that the fugitives crawled inside this tunnel to the outer walls of the prison, and then began digging another tunnel to the middle of a dirt road under one of the watchtowers on the outer wall of the prison.

The escape operation constituted a severe embarrassment for Israel, as the media revealed many security gaps in the Israeli prison system.

This escape was the first in Israeli prisons in 20 years, and occurred as a result of what the Israeli media described as a series of “fatal mistakes” made by Israeli officials.

Palestinian factions praised the escape from the Israeli prison, describing what happened as a “heroic act.”

Israeli soldiers

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The arrest came after an extensive security search campaign for the fugitives

Surveillance cameras captured pictures of the prisoners emerging from the tunnel around 1:30 a.m. local time, but alarm bells did not go off until 4 a.m., after local residents in areas close to the prison reported seeing “suspicious people” in the fields.

Media reports mentioned some security mistakes that officials made, which include publishing the prison’s engineering design on the website of the architects involved in its construction, placing six prisoners from the West Bank city of Jenin in the same cell, and not operating jamming devices that prevent smuggled mobile phones from operating to prisoners. For use in communicating with people outside the prison.

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Gilboa Prison: How did Palestinians escape from an Israeli high-security prison?

And confirmed reports emerged that the guard who was in the watchtower near the exit of the tunnel was asleep while the six inmates escaped.

Five of the fugitives – Mahmoud al-Ardah, Muhammad al-Ardah, Ayham Kammaji, Yaqoub Qadri and Munadil Nafi’at – belong to the Islamic Jihad movement. Four of them are serving life sentences after being convicted of planning or carrying out attacks that killed Israelis.

The sixth fugitive, Zakaria Zubeidi, was a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in Jenin. He was arrested by the Israeli forces in 2019 on suspicion of involvement in a number of shootings, and he was brought to trial.

According to the Addameer Foundation for Prisoner Care and Palestinian Human Rights, Gilboa Prison “was established under the supervision of Irish experts and opened in 2004, and it is described as the most guarded prison in Israel, and Palestinians are held in which Israel believes that they carried out operations inside the territories of 1948.”

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