Middle East

Prisoner trade between Israel and Syria: two Syrians refuse to be deported to Damascus

Two Syrians from the occupied Golan Heights refused to be deported by Israel to Damascus in trade for the discharge of an Israeli lady who crossed the Syrian border.

Nihal al-Maqt, who’s serving a suspended jail sentence, and Diad Kahamuz, who’s in an Israeli jail, stated on Wednesday night that they have been rejecting their proposed switch to Syria as a result of they wished to be of their metropolis. native of the Israeli-occupied Golan. as a substitute.

He upset a deal brokered by Russia between Syria and Israel that appeared poised to favor either side. Syrian state media had reported on Damascus’ position in liberating Syrians from Israeli jails, together with these like Maqt and Kahamuz, who’ve come from territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

“Thus far, discussions proceed [with Kahamuz and Israel Prison Service] to launch him to his hometown of Ghajar within the occupied Golan Heights, whereas Kahamuz insists on being launched there, “the Palestinian Prisoners Club stated in a press release.

Golan Heights ‘will proceed’ to be Israel’s, Netanyahu says after Blinken remarks

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Kahamuz, 34, was arrested in 2016 and sentenced in 2018 to 14 years in jail for smuggling explosives acquired by Hezbollah into Israel from Lebanon. He’s presently being held in a jail within the Negev desert.

Maqt, in the meantime, is serving a three-year suspended sentence at her house within the city of Majdal Shams within the Golan Heights.

On Wednesday, she informed Syrian tv that Israeli forces had come to her house to tell her of the choice to launch her in Damascus, however she refused to depart.

In January, Israel launched his brother Sidqi al-Maqt, who spent 11 years in an Israeli jail for espionage and was launched in January 2020.

Sidqi al-Maqt was launched in what Israel referred to as “goodwill gesture in trade for the 2019 Russian-assisted repatriation of the physique of Zachary Baumel, an Israeli soldier who was declared lacking in motion after a 1982 tank battle with Syrian forces in Lebanon.

In accordance with the official Syrian information company SANA, the Israeli lady detained in Syria mistakenly entered Quneitra province. Israeli media stated the girl was 25 and was from the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit within the occupied West Financial institution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to touch upon SANA’s report throughout an interview with IDF Radio on Wednesday, however stated he was utilizing his connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin to cope with a ” state of affairs that saves lives “.

“I’m utilizing my private relationship with President Putin to resolve the problem. We’re within the midst of delicate contacts,” Netanyahu stated. “We’re appearing in a quiet and accountable method to deal with the issue, and I feel we are going to remedy it.”

The Golan Heights: Why It Issues

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Formally a part of Syria for the reason that nation’s independence in 1944, the Golan Heights is a strategic plateau straddling Israel and Syria and overlooking southern Lebanon.

It was captured by Israel through the 1967 Center East Battle and later annexed in a transfer by no means acknowledged by the worldwide group.

The Golan is acknowledged as a part of Syria by the United Nations. UN Decision 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and different occupied territories, together with the Gaza Strip and the West Financial institution.

Nonetheless, Israel has repeatedly refused to take action and in 1981 it formally annexed Syrian territory.

A UN peacekeeping pressure has patrolled the dividing line between the Syrian and Israeli areas of the Golan Heights since 1974.

Israel has constructed settlements which can be unlawful underneath worldwide regulation within the occupied territory and settled its residents there.

Some 20,000 Israeli settlers presently stay within the Golan Heights, alongside about 26,000 indigenous inhabitants of the territory, who’re predominantly Druze and determine as Syrians.

For the reason that Syrian warfare broke out in 2011, Syrians from the Golan taking Israeli citizenship have develop into extra widespread, though the overwhelming majority reject it.

The Golan Heights are believed to supply a couple of third of Israel’s freshwater provide. The water of the territory flows into the Sea of ​​Galilee and the Jordan.

Moreover its strategic significance – the Golan is the one land border between Israel and Syria – the territory can also be utilized by the Israelis for leisure functions. The realm has an Israeli ski resort and several other wineries.

On Tuesday night, the Israeli cupboard met to deliberate on a “humanitarian subject” associated to Syria. The identify of the Israeli lady has not been made public, nor when she entered Syria illegally and was arrested.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of the inner intelligence company Shin Wager, and Yaron Blum, who offers with prisoners of warfare points, have been in Russia to barter the trade.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria within the 1967 Center East Battle, then annexed it in a transfer by no means acknowledged by the worldwide group.

The Syrians who stay within the plataeu are principally Druze and the overwhelming majority don’t acknowledge Israel’s sovereignty.

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