A group of Islamic Jihad prisoners, some of them serving life sentences, dug a tunnel in Shateh prison in northern Israel, in a failed bid to escape from the facility, the Israel Prison Service said Thursday.

The IPS said that they began searching the cells after they got a lead that some prisoners were plotting an attack on guards in the facility. While carrying out what they said were intensive searches of one of the cells in the security prisoners branch, they found a tunnel inside the bathroom.

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The tunnel was four meters long and almost two feet wide and had been dug in recent days, the IPS said, adding that it led into a yard at the prison and they believe that eventually the prisoners intended to make it long enough to reach outside the prison walls.

While searching another cell in the block, they found improvised knives or "shivs", as well as fake prison guard uniforms. The prisoners had made fake IPS badges out of cardboard and toothpaste the service said.

They are now trying to determine how many prisoners were involved in the plot and if there are more tunnels or stash spots in the prison near Beit Shean.

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