The planning, the excavations, and the threat of carrying out an attack • Investigation of the architect of the escape from the prison

The testimony of the escape architect from Gilboa Prison, Mahmoud Arda, one of the top Islamic Jihad terrorists in Israeli prisons, is published tonight (Tuesday), a little more than a month after the escape. According to the transcripts published in Here News, Arda, who initiated, planned and commanded the operation to escape from prison, told his GSS investigators the details of the planning and why he decided to dig the tunnel right now.

Arda: “I started digging on 14.12.20. It’s a day like I was born again. That day was ‘root canal treatment’ – the toughest search in prison. I moved to cell 5, which was closer to the prison wall than the previous cell, and then I started digging.”

Interrogator: “How did you move the embossment?”

Arda: “I did this step alone. I told the guys in the cell that I was doing a hideout for phones – and I would take the guys out of the cell during the excavation. I left only one of them as a guard.”

The terrorist went on to tell investigators that he was careful not to dig the tunnel with spoons, because he feared that after the escape, the IPS would prevent the other prisoners from using spoons.

Researcher: “What tools did you dig with?”

Arda: “Some time ago, the cabinets were replaced with iron cabinets. During the replacement, a piece of triangle-shaped iron fell from the corner of one of the cabinets. The guards did not notice. I also had a metal hacking screw I found in the prison yard. “The first phase took about 60 days. I knew what was under the cells because I had previously tried to dig a tunnel to escape from Shata Prison.”

Investigator: “Do you have experience digging tunnels?”

Arda: “I dug in Shata prison in 2014 – and there I was caught. I also dug under the toilet. I have known for 15 years that under the showers in all cells the floor is weak and a tunnel can be dug, but I did nothing because we were in good condition. There were university, good food, visits “

Interrogator: “Weren’t you afraid they would catch you digging the tunnel?”

Arda: “No. What would they do to me? Would they punish me for a few years? I’m still a life sentence. I have nothing to lose.”

Investigator: “What was the length of the tunnel?”

Arda: “I don’t know exactly, we crawled on our stomachs. Maybe 25 meters. We dug under four rooms until the exit.”

Interrogator: “When did you finish digging?”

Arda: “The day before we ran away”

Interrogator: “How did you know it was the end?”

Arda: “I saw the sun and that’s how I realized it was the end”

The terrorist Ardeh also said that he had planned to leave a letter in prison, before the escape, but it was not enough. Arda: “I wanted to write that I feel sorry for all the guards and staff. They behave well, but carry out instructions from politicians. I wanted to write that we are going to the Palestinian Authority and that the prisoners will not be punished, so that we do not have to do anything.”

Researcher: “What is meant by ‘doing something’?”

Arda: “I was afraid we would have to carry out attacks if the prisoners were punished in prisons”

On the night of the escape, Arda was the last to enter the tunnel among the six fugitives. Interrogator: “While you were waiting for your turn, did any of the guards pass by the cell?”

Arda: “They just walked down the hall, but did not check. They shone a flashlight on the cell, but did not suspect anything.”

He said they knew there was a guard tower at the exit of the tunnel shaft, and yet – they took the risk and fled. Interrogator: “Weren’t you afraid there would be a prison guard in the tower?”

Arda: “We saw that sometimes there is a prison there and sometimes not. We had a plan and it did not affect us.”

Eventually, Arda and his partner Yaakov Kadri arrived in Nazareth. He said they fed on food they found in the trash and planned to work in the city until the situation calmed down. Then, we planned to get to Jenin. As you may recall, the two were the first to be captured, five days after the escape.

 
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