Six Palestinian militants broke out of a maximum-security Israeli prison on Monday in a Hollywood-style escape that left their jailors peering through a hole in the floor of a cell and had Palestinians celebrating in the streets.
Israeli security forces mounted a search in northern Israel after farmers tipped off police about suspicious figures seen in their fields in the early morning hours. Police then alerted officials at Gilboa prison, who discovered that the men had gone.
Hours after the escape, prison officials transferred some other inmates - Palestinians convicted or suspected of anti-Israeli activities including deadly attacks - to other jails, fearing similar tunnels had been dug.
Five of the fugitives belong to the Islamic Jihad movement and one is a former commander of an armed group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah party, the Prisons Service said.
Four were serving life sentences after their conviction on charges of planning or carrying out attacks that killed Israelis. Another man was held under a special detention order, and the sixth fugitive was awaiting a verdict in his trial.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said he had spoken with Israel's internal security minister and "emphasised that this is a grave incident that requires an across-the-board effort by the security forces" to find the escapees.
A police spokesman said security forces believed the fugitives might try to reach the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule, or the Jordanian border some 14 km (9 miles) to the east.
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