by: Ilse Strauss
Friday, 19 February 2021 | A young Israeli woman who was imprisoned in Syria after crossing the Syrian border by accident was released from captivity and landed safely in Israel this morning. Her release is described as the fruit of a week of diplomatic negotiations between Israel and Syria—with Russia acting as mediator.
Since Israel and Syria have no diplomatic ties and are technically in a state of war, Moscow acted as intermediary to help the two hostile nations come to an agreement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed in a recorded message that the woman, who has not yet been identified, touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport on a flight from Moscow and thanked the Russians for their role in securing her release.
“A few days ago a young Israeli woman crossed the border into Syria,” the prime minister said. “I spoke twice with my friend President Vladimir Putin of Russia. I asked that he help to return her, and he took action.”
“Israel has always done and will always do everything in its power to bring its citizens home,” Netanyahu said.
In what is widely considered a prisoner swap between Jerusalem and Damascus, Israel released two Syrian shepherds who crossed into Israel and reduced the sentence of a Golan Heights resident.
Israel initially agreed to free from prison two residents from Golan Heights towns where most residents are loyal to Syria and identify as Syrian. The agreement was, however, held up when both prisoners refused to leave Israel for Syria.
According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the Israeli woman who crossed the Syrian border is a 25-year-old resident of Modi’in Illit. Her identity has not been released.
This is not the first time that Russia acts as the go-between for Israel and Syria. In April last year, Moscow played a key role in helping Israel find the remains of Sgt. Zachary Baumel, who went missing during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the 1982 Lebanon War. Baumel’s remains were subsequently returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange deal.
Posted on February 19, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 19, 2021)
Photo Credit: Photo by Cpl. Eden Briand/IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com
Photo License: Flickr
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