The escape from the six high security prisoners from the Gilboa Prison has once again highlighted the very weakness that leads to all great failures. This weakness is better known as "routine". Routine is the root of all sin. This 'routine' and the desire not to “wake the sleeping bear” dulled the prison guard’s senses and allowed the terrorists to dig a tunnel right under their noses.
As long as the hunt for the two remaining fugitives is in full swing and the investigation into their escape has not yet started, I am reminded of another famous escape that also stemmed from daily routine and the reluctance to break it.
In 1980, the entire country was horrified by the murder of eight-year-old Oron Yarden, who was abducted by Zvi Gur for ransom. Gur was convicted of murdering the child and sentenced to life in prison with an additional 36 years. Gur was incarcerated at the Ayalon Prison.
During the first years of Gur's imprisonment, the warden of the prison situated in Ramle was impressed by Gur’s unique painting skills and asked him to paint the outside of the prison walls.
On Friday, December 20, 1985, Zvi Gur (who was serving life) set out to paint and decorate the walls of the Ayalon Prison in Ramle. Gur was considered an "exemplary prisoner," and enjoyed full freedom of movement within the prison and was thus left to paint the outside prison walls unattended.
At 3pm on that afternoon he was observed busily painting the walls outside of the prison. An hour later, an officer of the Ramle Prison asked the duty officer to locate Gur - then 38 years old - in order to assign him another painting task. The officer on duty began searching for Gur near the prison walls, but he could not locate him. Despite this, the officer did not suspect that the killer had escaped.
The then warden of the Ramle prison, Brigadier Colonel Yosef Polak, received word of Gur's disappearance. He too refused to believe that the child killer had violated the unconditional trust he had placed in him and that he had fled. "He may have fallen asleep from exhaustion on the grass or in one of the workshops," was the theory at the prison.
Slowly the bitter truth began to sink in and they finally realized that Gur had indeed fled. At 19:00 that evening there was no longer any doubt that the killer had escaped. Security units of the Prison Service and the police were called to the jail.
More than 2,000 policemen took part in the huge manhunt - one of the largest in the country at the time - for the runaway killer. The then police commissioner, Major General David Krauss was quoted as saying: "I believe that Zvi Gur is still in the country. We have made it very difficult for him to escape the country. The borders are sealed, all the police are on their toes and we are investing supreme efforts." The police sharply criticized the prison service for allowing Gur to move around so freely.
On December 25th Gur was finally caught at precisely 6:45 pm by civilians who recognized him boarding the number 19 Dan bus in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood in west Rishon LeZion. The bus still carrying all of its passengers drove straight to the Holon police station.