Israeli Who Crossed Into Syria and Returned With Russian Help Gets Jail Time

Lawyers say court took 'special circumstances' into consideration and call 8-month prison sentence moderate and proportional

Adi Hashmonai
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Israeli soldiers stand guard at the Quneitra border crossing of the Israeli Golan Heights, in 2019.
Israeli soldiers stand guard at the Quneitra border crossing of the Israeli Golan Heights, in 2019.Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP
Adi Hashmonai

An Israeli court sentenced an Israeli woman who crossed the border into Syria in February to eight months in prison.

"The court accepted our claims over the woman's special circumstances," and its verdict was moderate and proportional, her lawyers, who were assigned to her by the public defender, said in a statement.

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She was convicted of illegally crossing the border into Syria, another breach of the law governing entry into Israel, violating a legal order, and interfering with a police officer's duty.

On February 1, the woman arrived at the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams, on the Israeli side of the border with Syria, according to the army's findings. She spent about two hours there and then starting climbing up a path that leads to the border area, and eventually crossed into Syria.

After reaching the Druze village of Hader, she was arrested by Syrian authorities and interrogated as a possible spy. Syria then used Russian mediators to contact Israel about the incident. After reaching a deal to secure her return, the woman traveled to Russia and then to Israel. 

In exchange for her return, Israel nullified the sentence of a Druze woman from the Golan Heights who was ordered to perform community service and repatriated two shepherds to Syria, as part of a Russia-mediated deal struck with Syria. 

According to foreign reports, as part of the deal, Israel agreed to purchase hundreds of thousands of Russian-made COVID vaccines to be given to Syria. 

An Israeli military probe found that Israeli soldiers near Syria had received an alert of a possible border breach when the woman crossed it, but did not locate her because they suspected an intrusion into Israel.

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