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Construction begins at Gilboa Prison to fix design flaws that led to jailbreak

Defense Ministry and Israel Prisons Service use vast quantities of filler to seal up spaces under the complex, which were exploited by six Palestinian security prisoners last year

Construction work at the Gilboa Prison to fix design flaws that led to jailbreak, December 2, 2022 (Israel Prison Service)
Construction work at the Gilboa Prison to fix design flaws that led to jailbreak, December 2, 2022 (Israel Prison Service)

Renovation work began Monday at Gilboa Prison to fix the design flaws exploited by six Palestinian security prisoners last year, when they tunneled under the complex in a brazen escape.

A joint statement by the Defense Ministry and the Israel Prisons Service said that after weeks of planning and assessments, work had begun to fill the spaces underneath the jail that had been used by the prisoners to facilitate their jailbreak.

“A convoy of tankers arrived at the prison, pouring about 1,200 cubic meters of filler into the various vulnerabilities that were located in the prison building and infrastructure,” the statement read. “This is to prevent the possibility of future escape attempts.”

The daring escape last September, which ended with the capture of the last two escaped inmates some two weeks later, has been seen as a major failure by Israel’s prison service. The prisoners reportedly dug the tunnel for months before the prison break, using plates, panhandles, building debris and part of a metal hanger.

Construction work at the Gilboa Prison to fix design flaws that led to jailbreak, December 2, 2022 (Israel Prison Service)

Five of the six inmates were members of the Islamic Jihad terror group, along with notorious Fatah terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi.

Several had been convicted of capital crimes and were serving life terms. Four of the prisoners were captured in northern Israel within the first week, but two others made their way into the northern West Bank city of Jenin and hid out there until their arrest on September 19.

The escape exposed a series of lapses at the prison, including a failure to learn lessons from previous escape attempts and several operational blunders, such as unmanned watchtowers and sleeping guards.

The Gilboa Prison was also the site of a previous attempted escape in 2014, when prison guards uncovered a tunnel dug underneath a bathroom.

An officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021 (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

The prison has faced an additional scandal recently, with claims that female guards had been “pimped” to Palestinian terror inmates to keep the prisoners happy.

State prosecutors have ordered police to reopen a probe into those allegations. The guards claimed the prison’s management knew about the abuse and covered it up.

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