Palestinian security prisoners set fire to several cells in the Ketziot and Ramon prisons in southern Israel on Wednesday in protest of the Israeli Prison Service's (IPS) decision to scatter them between different prisons and various wings after security prisoners escaped from the maximum-security Gilboa Prison earlier this week.
A senior IPS source told Ynet that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners had set seven out of 12 cells ablaze in their wing at Ketziot.
The source said that guards brought the fire under control and that all sixty of the wing's prisoners — half of whom are PIJ members — have been transferred to a different section of the prison.
Five of the escapees in Monday's jailbreak were members of the PIJ.
The unrest at Rimon began an hour and a half later when security prisoners started fires in cells in two different sections of the prison.
Several other detention facilities where security prisoners are being held have reported unrest as well.
The IPS senior that the service was on high alert and bracing for further clashes.
"The prisoners do not run the prisons, we do. The prisoners who do not follow our rules are punished," he said.
Palestinian prisoner leaders threatened to set aflame "any PIJ wing that the IPS will try to evacuate."
The IPS began moving security prisoners around different prisons Monday afternoon following the escape of the six security prisoners from Gilboa Prison with the aim of making it difficult for prisoners to unite against guards and to prevent them from attempting to emulate Monday's jailbreak from cells familiar to them.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip warned on Wednesday that any harm done to the fugitives will ignite a wave of violence against Israel.
"We place full responsibility on the lives of each of the fleeing prisoners on Israel," the factions said in a joint statement.
"All possibilities are open for their protection. We call on our people to provide protection for the heroic prisoners fleeing Gilboa Prison. We call on Egypt and its mediators to intervene and put pressure on Israel to stop its assault on the prisoners. We call on the international and Arab communities to take responsibility and protect the prisoners."
In a separate statement, the Gaza-ruling Hamas group warned Israel against "continuing retaliatory measures that violate the rights of prisoners."
The PIJ said it "will not allow ongoing aggression against the prisoners" and "all option are open" if the new restrictions on the prisoners are not scrapped.
A preliminary police investigation into the rare prison break has revealed a series of blunders made by prison officials.
The shocking prison break caused Israeli authorities to launch a massive manhunt in the country’s north and the West Bank early Monday after six prisoners — all jailed for serious terror offenses — tunneled out of their cell and escaped from Gilboa Prison in the biggest prison break of its kind in decades.
The escape marks an embarrassing security breach just ahead of the Jewish New Year, when Israelis flock to the north to enjoy beaches, campsites and the Sea of Galilee. The prisoners appear to have gone into hiding and there was no indication Israeli authorities view them as an immediate threat.
The preliminary investigation revealed the tunnel had been dug very close to the prison guard tower. It is now being examined whether the guard who was on the shift during the escape had fallen asleep, a suggestion to which the Israel Prison Service has not officially responded.
In addition, it has emerged there were intelligence warnings about three of the prisoners before the escape, which suggested they were planning to flee.
According to police assessment, some of the suspects might have fled the country, while some might be in the Beit She'an Valley in northern Israel. As a result, police patrols around synagogues in the area have been bolstered.
A Prison Service source said they are preparing for the possibility that staff in prisons across Israel could be attacked and riots might break out.
Security officials said they have erected roadblocks and are conducting patrols in the area. Army Radio said 400 prisoners are being moved as a protective measure against any additional escape attempts.
It appeared to be the biggest Palestinian escape from an Israeli prison since 1987, when six militants from the Islamic Jihad group broke out of a heavily guarded prison in Gaza months before the outbreak of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israel.
The escapees are suspected of having headed back to their hometown of Jenin, in the West Bank, about a 25 kilometer (15-mile) drive away. The internationally recognized PA wields little control in the town, where militants in recent weeks have clashed with Israeli forces. Israeli helicopters were seen flying over Jenin on Monday morning.