Arab-Israeli citizen uses paraglider to join fight in Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to revoke citizenship of Arab citizen who entered Syria through paraglider to join fight

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on October 25 2015

A 23 year-old Arab-Israeli citizen flew into Syria through a paraglider, the Israeli military reported on Sunday, in what appeared to be a deliberate effort to join the fight.

Military officials said that the 23-year-old was from Jaljulia, an Arab town north-west of Tel Aviv, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the still-under-investigation case with the media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet, following the latest events that he would work to revoke the man's citizenship.

"Whoever joins the enemy's ranks to fight Israel will not be an Israeli citizen," Netanyahu said.

In recent years, dozens of Arab-Israeli citizens have went into Syria to join in the fight, but this is the first case of someone has done so through air.

Initially, it was thought that an Israeli citizen had been accidently swept into Syria by the winds and captured by one of the fighting factions, which would have put Israel in a dire situation of having to reclaim a hostage.

However, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources later confirmed that he had flown against the prevailing winds, proposing that the journey was deliberately set in motion.

"IDF surveillance post identified a paraglider entering Syria," the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a tweet. "Initial investigation suggests Israeli-Arab crossed intentionally."

Israeli forces began a search for the man late Saturday, but the military said it had been unable to find the man despite the intensive searches.

He landed near the Golan Heights, an area in south-western Syria annexed by Israel in 1981, which was a move that has not been recognised internationally.

Reuters news agency quoted a Syrian fighter affiliated with a fighting faction which operates in the area as saying the paraglider had come down either in Deraa province or in neighboring Quneitra province, which includes the Golan Heights.

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz said that the army did not know which faction the young man was trying to join.

Local fighting groups in those areas include the Southern Front Alliance, affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front as well as a group called the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade.

TRTWorld and agencies