Palestinians warn of uprising if Israel seeks to kill ‘beloved’ escapees

The dramatic escape of six Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa prison is now in its fourth day, and the story is resonating around the world. Palestinians and their supporters celebrate the escape, while Israeli authorities and media express humiliation and rage.

Palestinians in a protest to show solidarity with prisoners held in Israeli jails, Khan Younis, Gaza strip, on 8 September 2021

Mondoweiss editors report:

The dramatic escape of six prisoners from Gilboa prison in Israel is now in its fourth day with none of the prisoners captured, and the story is resonating around the world. Palestinians and their supporters celebrate an escape to rival those in Hollywood pictures. While Israeli authorities and media express humiliation and rage.

Over 100 Palestinians were injured as Israeli authorities attacked protests in the West Bank Wednesday in solidarity with the escapees, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israelis describe the escapees as “terrorists,” and an anchor on i24 News said today that the escape has caused fear because they are “dangerous people on the run.” Alon Eviatar, a former intelligence officer, told the channel that Israel has two choices, to capture the escaped prisoners or kill them.

While Samer Sinijlawi, chair of the Jerusalem Development Fund, warned on i24 News that if any prisoner is assassinated, it would be a “serious mistake” on Israel’s part and quickly escalate, possibly resulting in an intifada, or uprising.

“No Palestinian and Israeli will agree on anything that relates to prisoners, we will always disagree… These people are heroes in front of every single Palestinian, regardless… This is something that brings all Palestinians together… 100 percent of Palestinians are in support of the prisoners,” Sinijlawi explained. “They have beaten the system, they have freed themselves from a very tough and complicated security arrangement… They are becoming beloved by everyone…. These people will be embraced, they will be helped everywhere they go within Palestinian society.”

There have been spontaneous demonstrations to celebrate the escape, with many holding spoons, which the escapees are said to have used to dig their escape hole. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have reportedly planned a Day of Rage in support of the escapees tomorrow.

The reverence for the men’s actions transcends all political, ideological, and generational differences in Palestinian society, Sinijlawi said on i24 News. Even Palestinian security officials will refuse to pass information on the men to Israeli authorities, because most of those officials were themselves once prisoners of Israel.

A third intifada will erupt if a hair on the head of one prisoner is touched, a Fatah official warned Israel, according to this report.

The support for the men is reflected in posts on social media, including this one from We Are Not Numbers, the Gaza writers group:

After the great escape of the six #Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa prison, the people in #Gaza held many demonstrations to celebrate this great incident, stand in solidarity with prisoners, and demand their rights. Such a great incident is a victory to them!

There are reports that Israel has arrested family members of some of the prisoners, and other reports that Israel is denying food and water to some prisoners in Gilboa prison in the wake of the incident.

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