Israeli police say they have launched a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the occupied West Bank after six Palestinian prisoners escaped from a high-security facility.
Multiple Israeli agencies were erecting roadblocks, conducting patrols and moving hundreds of other prisoners.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the development a “grave incident" that required maximum effort by the country's forces.
The police said on Monday that the prisoners escaped from the Gilboa prison, which is supposed to be one of Israel’s most secure facilities. Reports indicate that the prisoners escaped through a tunnel. The men reportedly appeared to have received some outside help.
The men were believed to have been headed for Jenin, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority wields little control.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, which represents both former and current prisoners, identified the men as ranging in age from 26 to 49 years old. They include Zakaria Zubeidi, 46, who has been detained since 2019. Zubeidi was a leader in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated with the Fatah movement, during the second Palestinian uprising over 20 years ago.
Israel’s Army Radio also said 400 prisoners are being moved as a protective measure against any additional escape attempts.