Arab Israeli Used Paraglider To Join Syria War

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel said on Sunday that an Arab citizen had used a paraglider to fly illegally into neighboring Syria, where he planned to join Islamic State in the four-year-old rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

The man’s flight across the fortified Golan Heights frontier jarred Israel, which has seen dozens of its minority Muslim Arabs or Palestinians from eastern Yerushalayim reach the Syrian civil war through legal destinations such as Turkey.

The Israeli military, whose aircraft dropped illumination flares around the Golan overnight before calling off the searches on Sunday, issued statements describing the paraglider as an Arab from the predominantly Muslim town of Jaljulia. He was not named. Israeli media gave his age as 23.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the man’s citizenship would be revoked as part of a wider policy against terrorists.

“Whoever joins the enemy’s ranks to fight Israel will not be an Israeli citizen,” Netanyahu said.

A Syrian rebel whose group operates in the area said the paraglider had come down either in Quneitra province or western Deraa. Local rebel groups include the Southern Front alliance affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, and a group called the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which other rebels believe is affiliated with Islamic State.

Israel has outlawed travel to Syria by Israelis on security grounds, and has cracked down on those suspected of trying to breach the ban.

Two videos purportedly by Islamic State and circulated on social media last week called for an escalation in the Palestinian violence. In one of the videos, a masked gunman speaking Hebrew with an Arabic accent threatens Israelis with all-out religious war.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said it could not authenticate the video but one of its officials told Reuters that, with more than 40 Israeli Arabs and eastern Yerushalayim Palestinians having left to join Islamic State in Syria or Iraq, the speaker in the video “could be one of them.”