Initial inquiry indicate multi-tier failure in prison break

September 10, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The escape of six terrorists from the Gilboa Prison on Sunday night was the result of a multi-tier failure of the command and rank and file of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), an initial inquiry shows.

Gilboa Prison. (TPS)

The terrorists dug a tunnel from the floor of their cell, under the prison walls and out through a hole, right under a guard tower.

An initial report shows a guard at the tower above the exit hole admitted to sleeping during the escape. Personnel monitoring security cameras covering the area of the escape failed to notice the event and did not respond. The escapees are believed to have waited at the spot for some 15 minutes before leaving.

The digging of the tunnel took weeks or months, and the prison guards failed to detect the activity.

The prison plans were posted online by the company that designed them and were removed shortly after the escape.

Civilians saw suspicious individuals on the roads near the prison, later identified as the terrorists, and called the police, which alerted the prison, but it took the prison two hours to figure out the full extent of the escape.

Although an almost identical escape attempt was exposed in 2014 in the same prison, no lessons were learned and no measures were taken to prevent another escape attempt.

Just two days before the escape, senior terrorist Zakaria Zbeidi, of the Fatah group, asked to move to Cell No. 5 with terrorists from the Islamic Jihad, a rival organization. Not only was the bizarre request approved, no one found the request suspicious.

The IPS are facing accusations that it enacted a lax atmosphere to appease the prisoners and buy quiet, subsequently enabling this escape.

The police suspect that guards aided the escape. The investigation is being conducted by the Lahav 433 Unit, which handles serious criminal investigations.

A total of 19 IPS servicemen have been questioned by the police, and some have been resummoned for further questioning.

Minister of Internal Security Omer Bar-Lev stated Thursday that Israel’s security forces are “engaged in a pursuit that will not end until we get our hands on the fleeing terrorists.”

“At the same time, an investigation is underway to find out whether the escape was assisted. We will lay our hands on the fleeing terrorists, correct the failures that led to the escapes, and if we find professional negligence, we will take care of that as well,” he added.

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