Officials stated that they have set up roadblocks and are patrolling the area. The Israeli Army Radio reported that 400 prisoners were being moved to protect against further escape attempts. According to the radio, the prisoners made their escape through a tunnel at Gilboa prison. This is one of Israel's most secure prisons. According to reports, the men appeared to have had some outside assistance.
Naftali Bennett (Israel's prime Minister) called it a "grave accident" that required Israel's security agencies to exert maximum effort.
He stated that he was getting constant updates about the prison escape, which took place just hours before Israel was due to celebrate the Jewish New Year. Authorities did not believe that the escapees posed any threat to the public and they didn't give instructions to anyone to change their routines. The West Bank border is approximately 4 km (2.5 miles) away from the prison.
Shimon Ben Shabo, police commander, stated that officials have strengthened emergency response call centers in the region to respond to reports about prisoners and that there are "forces available" to reach any location.
They were thought to be heading for Jenin, where there is little control by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and where militants have clashed openly with Israeli forces in recent weeks. On Monday morning, Israeli helicopters flew over Jenin.
The men were identified by the Palestinian Prisoners Club as being between 26 and 49 years old. This club represents both current and former prisoners. These men include Zakaria Zubeidi (46), who has been held since 2019. Zubeidi was a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade that was affiliated with Fatah during the second Palestinian uprising more than 20 years ago.
According to the prisoners' group, four of the other inmates were serving life sentences.
Israeli media published photos that show what appeared to be the tunnel's end. One image shows an Israeli security guard wearing a black T shirt inspecting the hole in the ground.
The breakout was quickly praised by militant Palestinian groups.
"This is a great hero act, which will cause an extreme shock to the Israeli security systems and will constitute a severe blow the army and all system in Israel," stated Daoud Shehab (a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad).
Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson, said that the escape was similar to the one described by him. He stated that it showed "that the struggle for freedom is continuous and extended inside prisons." This right must be obtained from outside.