Friday 26 May 2017

Israeli Arab uses hang-glider to fly to Syria 'and join Isil'

Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound with the Dome of the Rock (centre), which will have 24-hour security camera surveillance in a bid to quell recent violence. Photo: Ahma Gharabli
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound with the Dome of the Rock (centre), which will have 24-hour security camera surveillance in a bid to quell recent violence. Photo: Ahma Gharabli

Inna Lazareva Tel Aviv

An Israeli Arab man caused a security scare after using a hang-glider to fly across the border into Syria, apparently to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) insurgents.

Taking off at 5pm local time on Saturday, the 23-year-old resident of the Arab-Israeli village of Jaljuliya landed on the Syrian side of the border fence in the western part of the Daraa district.

The Israeli military dropped illumination flares around the Syrian Golan to try to find the man, before calling off the searches yesterday.

This triggered fears that Israeli jets had bombed positions occupied by the Lebanese militia Hizbollah, which is known to be operating in the area alongside Bashar al-Assad regime troops.

The citizen, whose name has not been released, is believed to have planned the trip for some time. Israel is investigating his background.

"We don't know whether anyone was waiting to receive him, but we assume that someone gliding against the direction other people glide does so on purpose," said Moti Almoz, an Israeli Defence Forces spokesman.

Speaking yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said the man's citizenship would be revoked.

"Yesterday, an Israeli civilian crossed our border in the Golan Heights into Syria to join the ranks of the enemy. We will act to nullify his citizenship," said Mr Netanyahu.

He also welcomed a plan brokered by the US to install video surveillance at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

The surveillance system is the centrepiece of a series of steps announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend in a bid to quell recent violence.

The violence has been fuelled by Palestinian allegations that Israel is trying to alter a delicate arrangement at the holy site - a charge that Israel denies.

The site is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and home to the biblical Jewish temples. Today, it is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Irish Independent

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