JERUSALEM: Six Palestinians have broken out of a maximum security Israeli prison in a Hollywood-style escape that left their jailors peering through a hole in the floor of a cell, and had Palestinians celebrating in the streets.
Israeli security forces mounted a search in northern Israel after farmers tipped off police about suspicious figures seen in their fields in the early morning hours yesterday. Police then alerted officials at Gilboa prison, who discovered that the men had gone.
Hours after the escape, prison officials transferred some other inmates – Palestinians convicted or suspected of anti-Israeli activities including deadly attacks – to other jails, fearing similar tunnels had been dug.
Five of the fugitives belong to the Islamic Jihad movement and one is a former commander of an armed group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah party, the Prisons Service said.
Four were serving life sentences after their conviction on charges of planning or carrying out attacks that killed Israelis. Another man was held under a special detention order, and the sixth fugitive was awaiting a verdict in his trial.
On social media, Palestinians and Israelis alike swiftly posted photos of a similar scene from the 1994 prison escape movie The Shawshank Redemption.