Netanyahu thanks Putin for return of young Israeli woman captured by Syria

Woman flown home from Moscow in a Russian-brokered exchange in which Israel released two Syrian shepherds.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The young Israeli woman who crossed the border into Syria under mysterious circumstances landed in Israel early Friday after having been first transferred to Moscow, Kann News reported.

The woman had apparently been in Russia since Wednesday and is expected to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency about her past and how she managed to cross the heavily guarded border into Syria, the report said.

A doctor examined her before she left Moscow and determined that she was feeling well. She also spoke with her family.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week and thanked him for assistance in resolving the incident.

“I spoke twice with my friend Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I requested his assistance in returning her, and he acted. I would like to thank him for again having joined in an effort to bring Israeli citizens back to the country. Israel has always, and will always, do everything it can to bring its citizens back home.”

The Prime Minister’s Office also stated that as a gesture of goodwill, Israel returned to Syria two shepherds who entered Israel illegally earlier this month and were arrested by the IDF. Israel will also shorten the the community service handed to Druze resident of the Golan Heights Nihal al-Makat by three months. A resident of the town of Majdal Shams who supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, al-Makat was convicted of incitement.

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Syria had apparently asked for the release of convicted terrorist Diyab Qahmuz, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail for helping the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon. However, Qahmuz refused to be deported to Damascus and chose instead to remain in jail in Israel. Al-Makat also refused to be deported but was already under house arrest in her Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams.

In addition to returning the shepherds, Israel is likely to provide “another consideration” to the Syrians, which was approved at a cabinet meeting Thursday, Kann reported, adding they were unable to report on the details but that they do not involve the release of additional Syrian prisoners.

According to reports, Syria first approached Russia to mediate following the arrest of the woman when she crossed into Syrian-held territory, asking Moscow to find out what Israel was interested in delivering in exchange for her return.

Details of the incident first appeared in the foreign media about the Israeli woman, a former resident of the ultra-Orthodox town of Modi’in Illit who may have chosen to convert to Islam. The woman apparently tried in the past to cross the border into the Gaza Strip and failed.

Putin’s special representative for Syria has warned Israel about continuing to carry out attacks in Syria, but Israel is not expected to change its policy due to the deal.