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The Six Palestinian Prisoner's who Escaped Gilboa

posted on: Sep 8, 2021

The tunnel the Palestinian prisoners used to make their escape

By: Leyelle Mosallam / Arab America Contributing Writer

​​Early in the morning on Monday, September 6th, six Palestinian prisoners escaped out of Israel’s highest security prison, Gilboa. Israeli authorities reported that the six prisoners managed to escape by lifting a piece of tile off the floor in their cell and crawling beneath the prison facility to an exit out. Escapes like this are extremely rare for a high-security prison, and the jailbreak has left Israeli prison authorities in shock. The prison break has even gone as far as being described as a “Hollywood-style” escape.  While Israeli occupation forces have launched a massive search campaign to locate the whereabouts of these six Palestinian prisoners, the prison break has been celebrated by Palestinian’s living in the occupied Palestinian territories and all across social media by prominent Palestinian activists. Seeing these six Palestinian prisoners escape Gilboa has symbolized a feeling of hope for not just Palestinian’s imprisoned within Israel’s political structure, but for all Palestinian’s who have been suffocating under Israel’s settler-colonial regime. 

An Overview of the Event

​​Overnight, Israeli police received several complaints from farmers about a “suspicious” group of people running through their agricultural fields. At the time, Israeli police did not know about the escape and didn’t think anything of the complaints. But, around 4 in the morning when the Gilboa prison authorities were giving a headcount and noticed that six prisoners were missing from their cell, they quickly discovered that the Palestinian prisoners had escaped.

According to Israeli prison authorities, the escape had been planned for several months. The prisoners managed to lift a piece of tile off the floor in the toilet area of their cell and used a “rusty spoon” to dig a tunnel and crawl their way out through the sewage system beneath the prison facility. Once the prisoners made it to their exit point, they dug another hole to reach the surface of the ground. The video below is a simulator from Israeli news explaining how the prisoners were able to make their escape. 

The Palestinian prisoners who escaped Gilboa are Mahmoud Arda, Mohamed Arda, Yacoob Qadri, Ayham Kamamji, Zakaria Zubeidi, and Monadel Naifat. All six of these prisoners are from Jenin and have been detained or sentence to life in prison for resisting the Israeli government. According to the sequences of events, from the farmers’ complaints to the 4 a.m. roll call, the prisoners began their escape process around 1 in the morning. That gave the prisoners more than enough time to cross the Green Line into the West Bank. Although the whereabouts of the six Palestinian prisoners have not been found, they are suspected to have headed back to their hometown Jenin or possibly Jordan.

The Significance of the Escape

The act of self-liberation by these six Palestinian prisoners not only symbolizes a sense of freedom and hope for the Palestinian’s but also disseminates the conventional wisdom behind Isreal’s occupation. The Israeli regime wants the world to believe that their colonial and technologically advanced surveillance systems are unbreakable, but the six Palestinian’s who escaped Israel’s maximum-security prison proves not just to Israel but to the world that the Palestinian determination to liberate themselves is much stronger than any occupational system created by the Israeli regime. 

The tunnel the six Palestinian’s created to make their escape out of prison is now called the “freedom tunnel”. The narrative behind the jailbreak is that through continuing persistence and leadership Palestinian’s will be free from their occupiers.

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