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Israel frees two Syrian prisoners: military

Israel frees two Syrian prisoners: military

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 28 Apr 2019, 12:29 pm

Jerusalem, Apr 28 (Xinhua/UNI) Israel's military said on Sunday that it released two Syrian citizens after missing Israeli soldier's remains were returned to Israel.

"A few minutes ago, two Syrian prisoners were transferred to Red Cross representatives through the Quneitra Crossing on the Golan Heights," a military spokesperson said in a statement.

The army did not elaborate on the identity of the prisoners.


Local Israeli media identified them as Ahmad Hamis, a 35-year-old Syrian of Palestinian origin from the al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, and Zidan Tawil, a 57-year-old man from the village of Khader.

Hamis is an activist with the Fatah, the main branch of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, who was arrested in 2005 after crossing into Israel from Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

He attempted to infiltrate an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights in order to kidnap an Israeli soldier. The attack was planned to be a revenge for the killing of Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, a co-founder of Fatah, who was assassinated by Israel in 1988.
Hamis has been imprisoned in Israel for the past 14 years and was expected to be released in 2023.

Tawil, imprisoned in Israel since July 2008, was part of a drug smuggling network, according to local Israeli media. He was convicted of trafficking drugs into Israel and was expected to be released in July.

Russia's Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said on Saturday that the move was part of swap deal brokered by Russia.
Under the deal, the remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel were returned to Israel some four weeks ago.

Israel denies the move was part of a deal. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the prisoners were freed as a "goodwill gesture."

Baumel went missing along with two of his fellow tank mates in a battle known as "the Battle of Sultan Yacoub" during Israel's invasion to Lebanon in 1982.

Baumel's remains were found in a cemetery in Syria. His return was brokered by Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.