0110 GMT July 05, 2022
The prison break triggered a massive manhunt for the group. Five of the fugitives belong to the Islamic Jihad movement and one is Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of a group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah party, Reuters wrote.
The Islamic Jihad members who escaped were accused of planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis.
Four of the men were serving life sentences, a Palestinian prisoners’ organization said.
Hamas, that runs the Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip, called the escape "a heroic act and a victory for the will and determination of our heroic detainees".
"This great victory proves again that the will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
Islamic Jihad lauded the jail break as "a powerful blow to the occupation forces".
Zubeidi was the former head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and a well-known figure among Palestinians and Israelis.
He was arrested over "terror allegations" in 2019 in a West Bank village near Ramallah.
The Israel Prison Service said an alert was sounded around 3:00 a.m. after "suspicious figures" were spotted outside the Gilboa prison in the north, AFP reported.
In footage, the service released a video which showed agents inspecting a narrow tunnel beneath a sink and another showing a hole just outside the prison walls.
Arik Yaacov, the service’s northern commander, said the escapees appeared to have opened a hole from their cell toilet floor to access passages formed by the prison’s construction.
Gilboa – which opened in 2004 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising – is a high security site where hundreds of Palestinians are detained among other inmates.
The Prison Service said all those held at Gilboa over "security offences" are being relocated in case additional escape tunnels have been dug beneath the facility.
Military forces and agents from Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet joined the search, which included aerial surveillance vehicles, officials said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the escape "a serious event that required a comprehensive effort by all of the security services".