A former Hamas military commander who was accused of spying for Israel has escaped from a maximum-security prison in the Gaza Strip.
It was not clear how Abu Odeh, who was being held in the Ansar Prison in the Gaza Strip, managed to escape.
The rare escape is seen by many Palestinians as a severe embarrassment for Hamas.
Hamas has arrested a number of suspects on suspicion of helping Abu Odeh, according to a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas officials described Abu Odeh as an “extremely dangerous security prisoner” and offered a reward for information leading to his capture.
The officials said they did not rule out the possibility that Abu Odeh, who was a top commander of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the “military” wing of Hamas, would try to cross the border into Israel.
Hamas set up checkpoints and deployed dozens of security officers in several parts of the Gaza Strip, especially near the border with Israel, in an attempt to prevent Abu Odeh from leaving the coastal enclave.
صور.. انتشار عناصر #الشرطة_الفلسطينية على الحدود الشرقية بين #قطاع_غزة و #اسرائيل، عقب اعلان وزارة الداخلية عن هروب #عبد_الكريم_أبو_عودة من مركز التوقيف https://t.co/6eltjlp3f3 #قدس_نت pic.twitter.com/En3uUk5sN1— وكالة قدس نت للأنباء (@qudsnet) January 29, 2022
Hamas also warned fishermen in the Gaza Strip not to help Abu Odeh.
المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية بغزة إياد البزم : "هروب الموقوف عبد الكريم شعبان أبو عودة (35 عاماً) من مركز التوقيف بغزة صباح اليوم السبت، والأجهزة الأمنية تتخذ إجراءاتها لإعادة توقيفه" pic.twitter.com/OWv2xqwlQY— حسن اصليح | Hassan (@hassaneslayeh) January 29, 2022
Eyad al-Bozm, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior, said Abu Odeh had escaped from prison on Saturday morning. “The [Hamas] security forces are taking measures to reapprehend him,” he added without elaborating.
On Saturday night, Hamas security officers raided the home of Abu Odeh and arrested some of his family members, while searching the house and damaging furniture, sources in the Gaza Strip said.