[Pnews] Palestinian inmates set cells ablaze in Israeli prisons after major jailbreak

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 8 14:16:11 EDT 2021

inmates set cells ablaze in Israeli prisons after major jailbreak
Josh Breiner, Yaniv Kubovich, Jack Khoury - September 8, 2021

Palestinian inmates affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement clashed with
guards and set seven cells in Ketziot Prison on fire on Wednesday, as
Israeli security services continue their search for six escaped
high-security prisoners, focusing on the Jezreel Valley area.

The Prison Service reported that two cells in Rimon Prison were also set
ablaze, but that the fire was under control. The riots follow a decision by
the Prison Service to redistribute about 400 Islamic Jihad-affiliated
inmates in jails throughout Israel.

Prison Service Commissioner Katy Perry decided shortly after the prison
break on Monday to move the Islamic Jihad inmates
in order to ensure that only one Islamic Jihad prisoner is placed in any
given prison cell. Israeli authorities said they were preparing for more
rioting in other prisons in the coming days.

Five of the fugitives
all of whom have been accused or convicted of planning or carrying out
terror attacks against Israelis
belong to Islamic Jihad.

Prisoner organizations announced that they have decided not to cooperate
with any decisions regarding the transfer of prisoners between prison
wings, saying they "have plans" to set more prison cells on fire.

In Ketziot, riots broke out and guards evacuated the wing's 70 prisoners
following the fires, which are now under control. No casualties were

Authorities suspect that the prisoners purposely set the cells ablaze due
to the Prison Service's decision to separate them. According to Palestinian
reports, clashes broke out between guards and inmates at Megiddo Prison as

   - Three suspects arrested for assisting Palestinian fugitives in
   northern Israel
   - Prison break: Israel backtracks on dispersing Islamic Jihad inmates
   after threats of riots
   - Six Palestinian prisoners escape Israeli prison, manhunt underway

Earlier on Wednesday, clashes broke out between guards and about 150
Islamic Jihad inmates at Ofer Prison who had refused to vacate. On average,
there are currently three Islamic Jihad prisoners per cell in that

According to Israel Prison Service sources, Central District Commander
Avichai Ben-Hamo later decided against moving the prisoners, fearing mass
disturbances, and they currently remain at Ofer. "They're just scared of
them," one senior Israel Prison Service official said.

Islamic Jihad announced on Wednesday morning that its inmates would hold a
hunger strike if Israeli authorities continue taking steps against them in
their prisons. In the West Bank, there are calls to hold solidarity marches
towards Israeli checkpoints in support of the prisoners.

[image: Israeli security forces man a checkpoint in Israel's northern city
of Afula on Wednesday.]

Israeli security forces man a checkpoint in Israel's northern city of Afula
on Wednesday.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP

At the same time, a Palestinian source close to the security prisoners told
Haaretz that inmates affiliated with other Palestinian groups – chiefly
Fatah and Hamas – are expected to join in the efforts against the Prison
Service if the limitations imposed on them are not lifted. Among those new
restrictions are cell searches and limiting the number of hours the
prisoners can walk around freely – cut from four hours to one.

In a few wings, prisoners are refusing to accept Islamic Jihad inmates due
to deep ideological and religious rifts between them.

The jailbreak poses a potential dilemma for Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas, whose security forces coordinate with Israel. His Fatah party has
praised the prison escape, but he has not commented on it.

Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh condemned Israel's
response within its prisons: "Our heroic prisoners are being brutally
attacked by the Israeli security services, which is liable to cause a major
explosion in the prisons," he said. "We are asking international
organizations to intervene in order to stop this aggression and oppression,
and calling on the Isreali government to end this aggression."

*Manhunt continues*

In a Wednesday meeting, senior security officials assessed that unrest
within prisons may lead to an escalation in the Gaza Strip. If that were to
happen, security officials believe that Israel's ability to search for the
fugitives would be diminished, because forces and attention would have to
be diverted to Gaza.

As the manhunt continues, the Israeli military announced it has decided to
extend a closure of the West Bank
The closure, imposed regularly on Jewish holidays, was meant to expire on
Wednesday night, but instead will continue until Saturday night.

Israel's defense agencies believe all six fugitives are still within
Israel, and have not crossed into the West Bank or Jordan. Forces are
searching the northern villages of Iksal and Salem in the Jezreel Valley
for the Palestinian inmates that escaped from Gilboa Prison on Monday
As part of the search effort, the Israeli military said that it has
mobilized six companies, two brigades, two search teams and a number of
specialized squads over the course of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.*
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