An alert Prisons Service officer frustrated the attempts of two Palestinian terrorists to escape the Damon Prison early Thursday morning. The two, both affiliated with Fatah, tried under the cover of darkness to flee the Mount Carmel-area prison compound.
On Wednesday evening, one of the officers at the prison noticed during night activities that the two would-be escapees were acting strangely in their locked cell. The officer originally continued on his way, but returned to their cells and kept watch over the suspicious behavior, eventually calling for reinforcements from the other prison wardens.
Entering the cell, the wardens discovered that the two were trying to break through the cell wall using a pipe they had recovered from their bathroom facilities. The prisoners had attempted to muffle the noise of the effort using spongy material that they had removed from their prison-issue mattresses.
The wardens apprehended the two, and they were removed from the area.
The two confessed during questioning that they had tried to escape, saying that the decision was easy because they had nothing to lose in trying.
Both of the would-be escapees are security prisoners. One, a resident of the Balata Refugee Camp near Nablus, is serving a sentence for shooting at two IDF soldiers. The second, a Kalkilya resident, was arrested after planting an explosive device in the path of an IDF jeep patrolling there.
In a debriefing following the incident, Chief Warden Yaron Meir complimented the wardens' quick reaction and cited their constant alertness. He said that during this period of national tension wardens at Damon Prison were forced to contend with outdated prison technology and no electronic monitoring, making their job more difficult relative to their counterparts in other Israeli prisons.
The prison, located in the Mount Carmel forests, currently holds 700 inmates, 250 of whom are security prisoners. Established in 1953 as the Damon Camp of the Haifa Prison, its buildings were used by a local Arab family prior to the prison's establishment. Damon was closed in 2000, but the government decided to reopen the facility in September 2001 following the escalation of violence. The majority of prisoners and detainees at the facility are Palestinians.