Prison Break: Massive Manhunt Underway

A massive manhunt is underway in Israel following an unlikely prison break by a group of Palestinian men. The prisoners, held for participation in Palestinian militant groups, managed to tunnel their way out of one of the most secure prisons in the country. The escapees are believed to have had outside help and are now eluding Israeli searches. The escape and the manhunt have the potential to exacerbate already high tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Unexpected prison break

A prison break on this scale has not been seen in Israel for decades and the incident has already become a major source of embarrassment and concern for the government.

Gilboa Prison was supposed to be one of the best high-security prisons in Israel. That assumption has now been shattered overnight and there are concerns about the security of similar facilities.

The men who escaped all shared a single cell at Gilboa Prison and belong to two different Palestinian militant groups. Four of the escapees had been serving life sentences.

Reportedly with outside help, the prisoners dug a narrow tunnel from their cell to the exterior of the prison, where they may or may not have had transportation waiting.

Where exactly the prisoners may be heading is unknown, though there are several likely possibilities. The nearby city of Jenin is thought to be the most likely as it is a stronghold for Palestinian militancy.

They could also be seeking to cross the border into neighboring Jordan or might simply be hiding in the agricultural regions around Gilboa.

No imminent threat to civilians

The prison break has been cheered by many Palestinians, who claim that the escapees and others are victims of the Israeli security apparatus.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that the “grave incident” would have to spark a major effort between security forces to locate the fugitives.

Despite the evident anxiety of Israeli officials and the praise devoted to the escape by Hamas and other militant groups, the Israeli government does not feel that the escapees are an imminent terror threat.

Israelis celebrating the Jewish New Year were not told to alter their plans. The fugitives are assumed to be exclusively interested in evading Israeli authorizes for the moment.

With roadblocks and helicopters rapidly put to work in the area, Israel is anticipating a quick recapture and is devoting enormous resources to ensuring that it happens.

If the men are able to hide amongst sympathetic Palestinians, however, the manhunt may prove to be a painstaking process for police.

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