.
.
.
.
Palestinian Israeli conflict

The six Palestinians who staged Hollywood-style escape from Israeli prison

Published: Updated:

Six Palestinians broke out of an Israeli prison Monday through a tunnel dug beneath a sink, triggering a massive manhunt for the group.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In footage that recalled the iconic 1994 prison escape film “The Shawshank Redemption,” the service released a video which showed agents inspecting a narrow tunnel beneath a sink and another showing a hole just outside the prison walls.

Gilboa -- which opened in 2004 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising -- is a high security site where hundreds of Palestinians are detained among other inmates.

The prison service said all those held at Gilboa over “security offenses” are being relocated in case additional escape tunnels have been dug beneath the facility.

People stand by a hole in the ground outside the walls of Gilboa prison after six Palestinian militants broke out of it in north Israel September 6, 2021. (Reuters)
People stand by a hole in the ground outside the walls of Gilboa prison after six Palestinian militants broke out of it in north Israel September 6, 2021. (Reuters)


The six Palestinians who vanished Monday from a prison in the Hollywood-style escape were being held for attacks against Israel.

Here is what we know about the escapees, who are members of extremist Islamic Jihad group and the Fatah movement.


Zakaria Zubeidi, 46

West Bank commander of the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Zakaria Zubeid is carried on the shoulders of supporters in Jenin. (Reuters)
West Bank commander of the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Zakaria Zubeid is carried on the shoulders of supporters in Jenin. (Reuters)

The former head of the Jenin branch of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades under Fateh, Zubeidi rose to prominence in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 2000 to 2005.

He agreed in 2007 to lay down his arms in exchange for being removed from an Israeli wanted list.

But Israel voided the agreement after its internal security service said Zubeidi had been involved in “several attacks.”

It said Zubeidi and an accomplice had used an official Palestinian Authority vehicle in multiple shooting attacks on Israeli civilian buses near settlements in the Ramallah area between November 2018 and January 2019.

Originally from the Jenin refugee camp in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, he was arrested and jailed in 2019.

The Palestinian Authority had previously accused Zubeidi of taking part in a deadly shooting attack on the residence of Jenin governor Qaddura Musa in 2002.

While detained over that attack, he went on hunger strike to protest his conditions. He was freed in 2012.


Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, 45

A headshot of Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah. (Twitter)
A headshot of Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah. (Twitter)

Hailing from Arraba, near Jenin, Ardah is a member of Islamic Jihad, one of the main Palestinian armed extremist groups.

He spent time in jail in the early 1990s before being freed following the Oslo accords.

A few months after being released, he was again imprisoned in 1996 for attacks on Israel claimed by Islamic Jihad, receiving a life sentence.

Ardah, the author of several books, was held in solitary confinement in 2014 after an escape tunnel was found at Israel’s Shata prison, according to his Islamic Jihad biography.

The group made him its “emir” in the Gilboa prison, from which the group escaped on Monday.

Ardah had been in the prison the longest of any of the escapees.

Some local media have reported he was the mastermind of the operation.


Mohammed Qassem Ardah, 39

A head shot of Mohammed Ardah. (Twitter)
A head shot of Mohammed Ardah. (Twitter)

Mohammad Qassem Ardah published a magazine for young Islamic Jihad supporters in the northern West Bank while still a teenager, gaining further notoriety for throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers.

In 2002, during the second intifada, he was arrested by the Israeli army for his role in Islamic Jihad’s armed wing and sentenced to life in prison.

The group’s biography of Ardah says he completed a history degree from Gaza’s al-Aqsa university by correspondence, as well as earning a master’s in public administration from Cairo University.


Yacoub Mahmoud Qadri, 48

A headshot of Yacoub Mahmoud Qadri. (Twitter)
A headshot of Yacoub Mahmoud Qadri. (Twitter)

Also born near Jenin, in Bir al-Basha, Qadri was arrested in 2003 and jailed for life over an attack the previous year against Israeli settlers.

AFP reported at the time that Palestinians killed an Israeli and wounded a Romanian driving on the road not far from the Shaked settlement in a gun attack.


Ayham Kamamji, 35

A photo of Ayham kamamji. (Twitter)
A photo of Ayham kamamji. (Twitter)

Originally from Kafr Dan, near Jenin, Kamamji is a member of Islamic Jihad who was arrested in 2006 and jailed for life for the kidnap and murder of a young Israeli settler, Eliahu Asheri.

Islamic Jihad said he suffered from abdominal and intestinal illness in jail and was subject to “medical negligence” by prison authorities.


Munadel Infeiat, 26

Originally from Yaabad village near Jenin, Islamic Jihad says member Infeiat was arrested last year.

Previously jailed multiple times for his role in the armed group, he was awaiting sentencing at the time of the escape.

Read more:

Israeli police search for six Palestinian prisoners who escaped prison through tunnel

Israel launches airstrikes against Gaza after incendiary balloon attacks

Israel’s IDF Chief: We have plans in place for when we decide to attack Iran