Israel Is in Talks to Free Girl Who Crossed the Syrian Frontier


JERUSALEM — Israel and Syria, lengthy bitter foes, are engaged in Russian-mediated talks for a prisoner alternate after an Israeli lady just lately crossed the frontier and was detained by the Syrian authorities, Syrian state media and Israeli officers mentioned on Wednesday.

The bizarre episode had been stored underneath wraps, whilst Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as an emergency assembly of his cupboard on Tuesday night to debate what was described as a delicate humanitarian subject associated to Syria.

The drama has since begun to unfold amid snippets of data and rumors. On Wednesday, SANA, the Syrian information company, reported that Syria was working to liberate two of its residents from Israeli detention, via Russian mediation, in alternate for the Israeli lady, who it mentioned had entered Syrian territory within the Golan Heights area “by mistake.” The specifics of the girl’s id had been unclear.

Few particulars have been launched, however Mr. Netanyahu, when requested in regards to the episode in an interview with Israel’s Military Radio later Wednesday, mentioned, “We’re working to avoid wasting a life.”

He mentioned he wouldn’t touch upon the information reviews, however added, referencing Russia’s chief, “I can solely let you know that I’m utilizing my private connections with President Putin with a view to remedy this drawback, and that we’re within the midst of delicate contacts, which can’t be mentioned.”

The frontier between the Israeli-controlled portion of the Golan Heights and Syria has been tense lately and is closely patrolled and guarded by Israeli forces. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria within the 1967 battle and later successfully annexed the territory. Whereas it could be tough to slide over the frontier or cross it accidentally, some elements are separated by a much less forbidding fence than others.

The Syrian report named two detainees whose freedom Syria sought, Diab Qahmuz and Nihal Al-Maqt, and recognized them as residents of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. About 20,000 Syrian Druze Arabs stay in villages within the Israeli-held territory. Many nonetheless establish as Syrians and have refused to take Israeli citizenship.

Based on Israeli media reviews, Mr. Qahmuz is from Ghajar, a contested village at a risky juncture of Israel, Lebanon and Syria. He was convicted in 2018 and obtained a 14-year sentence for smuggling explosives into Israel from Lebanon on behalf of Hezbollah and for scouting out potential websites for a bomb assault.

Ms. Maqt, a resident of the Israeli-held Golan Heights, was convicted on prices of incitement, in response to media reviews, and was launched from home arrest on Wednesday.

Mr. Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, Israel’s protection minister, have been in touch with Russian officers in current days. Mr. Netanyahu’s nationwide safety adviser and his chief negotiator for the return of Israelis in enemy palms had been reported to have traveled to Moscow for talks.

Russia has served up to now as a go-between for Israel and the Syrian authorities. In a good-will gesture in 2016, President Vladimir V. Putin agreed to return to Israel a tank that was seized throughout a disastrous 1982 battle with Syrian forces in southern Lebanon, an episode that left three Israeli troopers lacking in motion and haunted Israel for many years.

In 2019, Moscow mediated the return of the stays of Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel, an Israeli tank driver who was killed in that battle.

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