Prison guards suspected of complicity in escape of 6 terrorists

Israeli police believe that some prison guards may have aided in the escape. Two Israel Prisons Service officials are expected to be questioned on Thursday.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Israeli security officials have extended the holiday closure of the areas within the control of the Palestinian Authority until Saturday night because of the escape of six security prisoners from Israel’s Gilboa prison on the eve of the Rosh Hashanah holiday. The closure was implemented, as usual, before the holiday and would have been lifted Thursday had it not been for the current security situation.

The decision comes as disturbances have broken out at several Israeli prisons.

Police believe that some prison guards may have aided in the escape. Two Israel Prisons Service officials are expected to be questioned on Thursday.

The investigation is being conducted by the unit Lahav 433, which is known for handling serious criminal investigations, such as those that involve cabinet ministers.

There are also reports of guards who failed in their duties, behaving irresponsibly and even sleeping on the job. The prisoners apparently knew of this behavior and used it to their advantage.

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Meanwhile, prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad set fires in their cells and burned mattresses in the Ketziot and Ramon prisons. They claim to be protesting plans to transfer some of them to other prisons. A prisoner at Gilboa prison threw boiling water at a guard.

Opposition to the mobilization of security prisoners, which began following the escape of the terrorists, is escalating. Leaders among them stated that “any wing of the Islamic Jihad [prisoners] that the IPS will try to evacuate will be set on fire.” The prison service responded that they are prepared for any contingency and that they do not let the prisoners set the agenda.

About 170 prisoners have already been moved around. The prisons keep the terrorists from Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and other organizations separate from one another. This is done out of fear that members of different groups may attack one another because of longstanding feuds.

Some groups have been calling on the Arab public to assist the escapees in any way they can and to try and interfere with the current manhunt.

Hamas  issued a statement warning Israel not to continue with what it called “retaliatory measures that violate prisoners’ rights.” Hamas said that Israel is responsible for their prisoners’ welfare and that they “will not remain silent about the violation of their rights, and we will not leave the prisoners alone in the battle.”

With the end of the Rosh Hashana holiday at sundown this evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett  is currently meeting with the Ministers of Defense and Internal Security, the IDF Chief of Staff, the National Police Commissioner, the head of the Israel Prison Services and the head of the General Security Services, among others.

On the issue of riots at other prisons in the wake of the escape and the possibility that it will motivate a renewed round of violence, Bennett said, “Israel is prepared for any scenario.”