The manhunt after escaped Palestinian security prisoners continued late on Tuesday, as hundreds of police forces scoured northern Israel in the hopes of finding traces of the six.
The shocking prison break caused Israeli authorities to launch a massive manhunt in the country’s north and the West Bank early Monday after the 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.
Some 89 roadblocks were set up and 730 patrol cars joined the search in what was described the largest search operation conducted by Israeli security forces in years.
Three residents of the Arab Israeli village of Na'ura were reportedly arrested earlier on Tuesday on suspicion of providing aid to the prisoners after their escape.
Some 170 members of the Islamic Jihad who are held in Israeli jails, were reported to being transferred to different facilities to prevent riots after five of the fugitives were affiliated with the terror group.
Hundreds more will be moved in the coming hours and days.
All Israeli security agencies have joined the search using sophisticated intelligence technologies, including drones able to observe large areas, but the police estimate the fugitives have had a head start of at least half a day.
The operation was being run from a joint command center that includes the Shin Bet Security Agency, the IDF and Israel Police.
Despite the prison's proximity to the West Bank area of Jenin, home of the six men, security forces believe that at least some of the escaping prisoners were still in Israeli territory. They are not thought to be planning an imminent terror attack.
The Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza said that if punitive steps were to be taken against their members who are incarcerated in Israel, they would take action.
"We tell the Israelis that nothing would prevent us from our duty towards our brothers who are in custody and all options are open. If Israel retaliates against them, the gates of hell will be opened and our response would be swift and unexpected," the Islamic Jihad said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Security officials noted that if the six men were to be killed by security forces while resisting arrests, an escalation of violence could be expected across the Gaza border. The Islamic Jihad is believed to be responsible for a rocket launch last month after members of the organization were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on the West Bank.
First published: 23:23, 09.07.21