Israeli Court Sentences Palestinian Jailbreakers to Five Years in Prison

An Israeli court convicts the six Palestinians for the 'unprecedented' jailbreak, while five more inmates are charged for assisting in the escape plan

Adi Hashmonai
Zakaria Zubeidi at the court, Nazareth, on Sunday.
Zakaria Zubeidi at the court, Nazareth, on Sunday.Credit: Oren Ziv
Adi Hashmonai

An Israeli court sentenced the six Palestinians who escaped from a high-security prison in September to five years jail time for escaping custody on Sunday.

The six prisoners — Mahmoud and Mohammed Ardah, Iham Kamamji, Yakoob Qadri, Munadil Infaat and Zakaria Zubeidi, the former leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and a Fatah activist— were also handed an eight-months probation, as well as a 5,000 shekel ($1,487) fine.

Five more inmates convicted of assisting in the escape plan were sentenced to four years jail time and a three-month to six-months probation.

In delivering the verdict, judge Adi Bambiliya-Einstein described the escape as "unprecedented" and noted that the "public damage and harm that was caused to the public institution should not be ignored."

In addition, Attorney Hanan Hatia, representing Yakoob Qadri, objected the sentence, saying it was "not proportional compared with other similar cases."

Zakaria Zubeidi and Mohammed Ardah after their capture, in September.Credit: משטרת ישראל

Last September, the six high-risk security prisoners escaped from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel via a tunnel they had dug in their cell.

The six Palestinians were captured after a two-weeks manhunt. All of the escapees have been previously accused or convicted of partaking in terror activities.

The jailbreak was widely perceived as a significant embarrassment for Israel's prison establishment, and prompted the government to launch a commission of inquiry to determine how the inmates were able to escape.

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