Netanyahu calls mysterious, classified meeting on ‘humanitarian’ issue in Syria

[UPDATE: The meeting was called after an Israeli girl wandered into Syria by mistake. A prisoner exchange is being negotiated for her release,]

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a classified meeting on Wednesday evening with senior government officials to discuss what was described as an urgent humanitarian issue in Syria after an Israeli girl wandered into Syrian territory.

The reason for the meeting at the time was unknown. The only information made public about the content of the hour-long meeting is that it involved the cooperation of Russia.

It emerged later on Wednesday that an Israeli girl had accidentally entered Syria. Two Syrian prisoners will be exchanged for the girl, Syria’s official news agency reports. Israel has not commented on the matter.

There was speculation that the meeting had to do with the return of the remains of IDF soldiers. Earlier in February, Channel 12 News reported that Russian troops in Syria were attempting to locate the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in battle nearly four decades ago.

It’s widely believed that Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, who fought in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub, may be buried at the Yarmouk refugee camp cemetery in Syria. The IDF officially lists Feldman and Katz as missing in action.

In 2019, Russian troops helped Israel repatriate the body of Zachary Baumel, who was killed in the same battle and buried in Syria. He was laid to rest in a ceremony at the IDF military cemetery on Mount Herzl, where he was eulogized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In his remarks at the funeral, Netanyahu praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for Russia’s help in locating Baumel’s body.

“When I asked [Putin] to help us bring our boys home, he immediately instructed his people to begin,” Netanyahu said.

However, Channel 12 reported Wednesday evening that the matter does not involve the recovery of bodies of Israeli soldiers.

The network said it was about “a humanitarian issue with diplomatic aspects” and stressed that it was completely unrelated to “any IDF attack, nor an escalating security incident.”