Israeli Woman Held in Syria Returned in Prisoner Swap
An Israeli woman who crossed into Syria and was arrested returned to Israel via Moscow. The unnamed civilian woman had been held in Syria for about a week and was released with the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She landed in Israel on Thursday and was reportedly taken for questioning by the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked Putin for his help in a statement released by his office late Thursday. In exchange for the release of the woman, which the statement called “a gesture of goodwill,” Israel returned to Syria two shepherds arrested earlier this month after entering Israel and said it would use a pardon to shorten by three months the prison sentence of Golan Heights resident Nihal Al-Maqt. It was not clear if Al-Maqt would return to the Golan Heights or be sent to Syria.
“Israel has always, and will always, do everything it can to bring its citizens back home,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
Netanyahu spoke with Putin on February 8 and February 13 to enlist in his help to bring the woman home. Syria reportedly also approached Putin to explore whether Israel would be interested in a prisoner swap, the Kan pubic broadcaster reported. The Israeli civilian voluntarily crossed into Syria and is a former haredi Orthodox woman from Modi’in Ilit who is exploring the Muslim faith, Kan reported, citing foreign sources.