Six security prisoners escaped from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel overnight Sunday, through a tunnel they dug.
Among the prisoners who escaped is Zakaria Zubeidi, the former Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorist organization.
Police forces have been called to the scene, and are conducting searches in the area using helicopters and drone.
An Israel Prison Service (IPS) spokesperson said that the circumstances of the incident are being investigated.
An Israeli military spokesperson said IDF troops and Israel Security Agency (Shabak) internal security agency forces are assisting in the pursuit after the security prisoners.
"In a joint effort, IDF and Shabak troops are assisting the Israeli Police and the Israeli Prison Services in searching after the six security prisoners that escaped the Gilbo’a Prison earlier this morning. Likewise, IDF aircraft have been assigned for observation tasks. IDF troops are prepared and deployed in the Judea and Samaria area."
Following the escape, prison officials have transferred other security prisoners from the wing where the tunnel was dug to other prisons across Israel, amid concerns that there could be additional tunnels yet to be uncovered.
It is believed that the tunnel used for the escape was dug over the course of several years.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) held a situational assessment Monday morning with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, IDF Operations Directorate chief Oded Basyuk, and IDF Central Command chief Yehuda Fuchs, following the prison break.
The security officials updated Gantz regarding the searches for the escaped terrorists and efforts to increase border security to prevent the terrorists from leaving Israeli territory.
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Religious Zionist Party), chairman of the Otzma Yehudit faction, blasted government policies regarding the 'lenient prison conditions' for jailed terrorists, which he said were to blame for the escape.
"The lenient prison conditions for terrorists and the giving in to their demands for fear of an escalation, were taken advantage of [by the terrorists] for their escape. Public Security Minister Omar Bar-Lev needs to take stock of the implications of this failure and resign."