Hamas planned Ashkelon jail raid to free Palestinian prisoners on October 7 – report

Terrorists headed to Shikma Prison with detailed plan but got lost on the way for ‘unknown reason,’ ended up in Sderot, according to London-based Arabic paper

File: Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists are seen on their way to cross the Israel-Gaza border fence from Khan Younis on October 7, 2023, during the Hamas-led onslaught. (Said Khatib/AFP)
File: Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists are seen on their way to cross the Israel-Gaza border fence from Khan Younis on October 7, 2023, during the Hamas-led onslaught. (Said Khatib/AFP)

A report Tuesday claimed Ashkelon’s Shikma Prison was one of the targets in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, but the terrorists who set out to storm the prison and free its Palestinian inmates got lost on the way.

London-based Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday cited unnamed Palestinian sources as saying that one of the first groups of Hamas terrorists that crossed the Gaza border and went north on October 7 was headed for the facility housing hundreds of Palestinians convicted of terror and other security offenses.

However, the mission failed when the group deviated from its path for an “unknown technical reason,” according to the report, which could not be verified.

The report included a map illustrating the cell’s route. After bursting through the Erez crossing, the group of nearly two dozen terrorists traveled north to Yad Mordechai, but after getting in a firefight and killing several people, the cell seemingly lost its way. Turning west and then south, the group reached Netiv Ha’asara, on the border with Gaza, and eventually ended up in Sderot, where its members continued to massacre people and battle Israeli forces.

The 23 terrorists, part of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force, were among the thousands of attackers who streamed into southern Israel on October 7, by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping 253 to Gaza, amid horrific acts of brutality and sexual assault.

It is believed that 130 hostages abducted by Hamas that day remain in Gaza, not all of them alive.

Screenshot of Hamas body cam footage as terrorists fire on an Israeli vehicle during the terror organization’s October 7 attack in southern Israel, released by the IDF and GPO. (Screenshot)

The IDF says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7 as security forces responded to the devastating shock attack.

According to the report, the group had prepared a detailed plan to assault the prison, including “attacking the main gate using explosive devices” in such a way that they hoped would cause a riot in the prison and help in liberating the prisoners.

Shikma is located some 13 kilometers from Gaza, southeast of Ashkelon. It has separate wings for security inmates serving time for terror-related offenses and criminal convicts. There are also sections for female prisoners, minors and inmates requiring enhanced protection.

A woman protests outside Ashkelon’s Shikma Prison on December 2, 2008. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

The newspaper claimed that after reaching Sderot, the group was ordered to hold their ground in the city as long as possible, with some members holing up in a police station, where battles continued into October 8.

Meanwhile, a separate cell that had infiltrated Kibbutz Zikim was ordered to try to reach the prison, but was killed by Israeli forces, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

Hamas has insisted that Israel release thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds serving life sentences, in exchange for freeing hostages.

In January, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the first 70 terrorists to breach the border on October 7 were selected from among hundreds of elite commandos from all over Gaza, and underwent training for a number of years, along with continuous testing to gauge their skills.

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