Following the sensational prison escape by six Palestinians from Gilboa Prison, a high-security facility in northern Israel known as "The Safe", former boxer and political prisoner Hamza Younis has given an exclusive interview to Politics Today about his own escape from an Israeli jail, not once, but three times, in 1964, 1967 and 1974. Today he lives in Sweden.
In 1964, prisoners sparked off a fight in the middle of the prison cells. The jailers pushed the door open and clashed with them. The clash continued until they left the cell area and spilled out into the prison yard. "When we got out, they were shooting at us. We entered an orange orchard and headed to Gaza. This was on 17 April, 1964, and we stayed in Gaza until 1967," explained Younis.
He stayed in Gaza until the 1967 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the neighbouring Arab countries. "I was injured while defending Gaza, and they managed to arrest me." While in prison, his leg was so bad that he couldn't even stand on it. When Israeli jailers took him for interrogation, the guards said that if he was moved to the hospital in a normal car, he might not make it because the wound was open, and he needed surgery.
"Two guards were responsible for me at the English Hospital, but when they saw that I was unable to move and that I was peeing in my bed and moving in a wheelchair, they neglected to watch me. So, on 26 June, 1967, with the help of my friends, I escaped from the hospital." A few weeks later, on 6 August, Younis used a Palestinian ID, claimed to be a student who needed to go back to his studies, and got out of the West Bank in a car.
His third and final escape from an Israeli prison happened in 1974. He pointed out that following his sentence to seven life sentences and 350 years in prison, Israeli journalists in the court room told him that he would die before seeing the sunlight again.
"I told them that I was not responsible for the sentence given to me by the judge, but I am responsible for what I say. I will stay in prison only for two years, and I will leave afterwards."
That is exactly what happened. To read how he managed to escape for the third time, and for the full interview, click here.