An Israeli court on Sunday sentenced six Palestinian prisoners to five years in prison for digging a tunnel out of their cell last year and escaping a high-security facility in the biggest prison break of its kind in decades.
The jailbreak led to a massive search operation in the north of the country and the occupied West Bank in search of men who were members of Palestinian terrorist groups. He was taken back a few days later.
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The bold escape dominated newscasts, heavily criticizing Israel’s prison service and prompting the government to launch an investigation. According to various reports, the men dug a tunnel through the floor of their shared cell over several months and managed to slip over a sleeping prison guard after exiting through a hole outside the facility.
The judge ruled that the sentencing took into account the fact that prison breaks paralyzed the nation for days, the cost to repatriate prisoners and the harm to public safety suffered by prisoners under life sentences, and severe Convicted to avoid offences.
The five-year sentence would be added to the prison terms the prisoners were already serving. Five other prisoners charged with aiding the men were sentenced to an additional four years.
Israel considers all six who fled as terrorists. Five of them are from the Islamic Jihad terrorist group, four of whom are serving life sentences. The sixth, Zakaria Zubaidi, is a member of the secular Fatah group of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Zubaidi was a militant leader during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s and is well known in Israel for his militant activity and his love for giving media interviews.
Palestinians see the prisoners held by Israel as heroes of their national cause, and many on social media celebrated their escape and held demonstrations in support of the prisoners.
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