Prisons Commissioner Says 300 Escapes Thwarted Over 10 Years

Israeli police officers at a roadblock at the Jezreel junction on Road 60 which leads to Jenin. As of Monday night, two of the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped the Gilboa prison were still being sought. (Michael Giladi /Flash90)

In the wake of one of the most serious prison breaks in Israeli history, which caught officials off guard, the head of the prison system testified in the Knesset on Monday about their security successes.

Israel Prisons Service Commissioner Katy Perry told a Knesset Public Security Committee hearing that more than 300 prison escapes have been foiled over the past decade.

“The threat of escape is the biggest threat, and it is at the top of the agenda of every officer,” Perry said. “Around 300 escape attempts and escape plans were thwarted over the past decade.”

As she spoke, two of the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped last week from Gilboa Prison in the north were still at large.

Perry said they have worked to “eradicate crime within prisons, collect intelligence information, and thwart” prison breaks.

Perry, who was appointed in January, said that since the escape occurred, she has taken a series of steps, including boosting security at prisons and dispersing security prisoners linked to the Islamic Jihad.

In addition, she said, she established a team together with the military and other officials, “which is going cell by cell and wing by wing” in each prison in order “to check the engineering of the buildings, to see the blueprints and to check what is underground” beneath the facilities.

The focus on structural flaws was inspired by the manner of the escape, in which the inmates tunneled to the outside through a hollow portion in a shower area.

Meanwhile on Monday, another failure in the Gilboa incident was reported: a guard responsible for monitoring the security cameras in the control room didn’t notice that the escape was caught by the cameras because he was watching the news, according to Walla, citing an unnamed source.

But, Perry told the committee, “even if mistakes were made and there was negligence, most of our staff are engaged in holy work in an uncomfortable workplace.”

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