Israel on Wednesday reopened a crossing with the West Bank for the first time since six prisoners tunneled out of a nearby Israeli prison, a rare escape that triggered a massive nationwide manhunt before they were all recaptured.
The Israeli military body that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said the Jalameh crossing into the northern West Bank would be open for the first time since Sept. 6, when the six prisoners escaped.
The six prisoners - five of which are affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terrorist group and accused of deadly attacks against Israelis - tunneled out of Gilboa prison in northern Israel through a shaft in the floor of their bathroom in the biggest jailbreak of its kind in decades.
They later split up into groups of two. The first four were apprehended in the northern Arab village of Shibli–Umm al-Ghanam, near the city of Nazareth, while the final pair were apprehended a few days later in the West Bank town of Jenin.
The incident marked an embarrassing security breach for Israel and sparked a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the West Bank. Lawyers for two of the prisoners said they were beaten during their arrest.
Many among the Palestinians consider prisoners held by Israel to be heroes of their national cause, with many more lauding and celebrating the six's escape, including the Hamas terrorist group which rules the Gaza Strip.