Three of the escaped security prisoners were known flight risks, source says

Former prison officials say cellular communications blocker was installed but never activated - due to concerns of violent protest.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The tunnel by which the terrorists escaped
The tunnel by which the terrorists escaped
Israel Prisons Service

Zakaria Zubeidi, the only one of the six escaped prisoners who is not affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group, asked to be transferred to the cell in which the other five terrorists were being held, Maariv reported.

Zubeidi is the former Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorist organization.

According to Maariv, seven years ago Islamic Jihad terrorists serving a sentence in the Gilboa Prison dug a tunnel under their bathroom in the wing, but the tunnel was discovered and its construction was halted at an early stage.

Following that, the issue was investigated, and a suggestion to install a simple detection system in the cells was proposed. However, as the years passed the discussions were forgotten and the issues returned.

Former Israel Prisons Service officials said that a system for blocking cellular communications was installed in the prison over a year ago, to the tune of millions of shekels. However, the system was never activated, due to concerns that its activation would spark violent protests in the prison.

Maariv also added that three of the escaped prisoners were tagged as being at high risk of escaping, and should have been separated. This, however, never occurred.

A former senior Israel Prisons Service official told Maariv that the tunnel by which the prisoners escaped was not dug in a day or even in a month. According to her, at 3:30a.m. there was a nightly count of the prisoners. At first there was a report of three prisoners missing, and only afterwards did it become clear that the true number was six.

The accepted protocol in facilities for security prisoners is that once every six months, all of the prisoners are transferred to a different wing, in light of previous attempts to dig tunnels which occurred in both the Gilboa and Shita prisons.

Zubeidi, who is not a member of Islamic Jihad, placed a request to be moved to a cell with five Islamic Jihad terrorists. Usually, the Israel Prisons Service does not place members of one terror group in a cell with members of a different group. However, Zubeidi's request did not alarm anyone, despite the fact that previously, a tunnel had been dug in that same wing.