Two of the four militants killed by the Israeli Air Force Sunday night while planting explosives near the Israel-Syria border were brothers, the sons of a former Israeli Druze security prisoner.
Residents of the Druze village of Majdal Shams in northern Israel told Hebrew-language media outlets Monday that they were the sons of the former prisoner Walid Mahmoud, a native of the village.
Mahmoud was arrested numerous times in Israel in the 1970s and ’80s for terror-related activity and later fled to Syria with his family after being released in a prisoner swap in 1985.
Family members and hundreds of the town’s residents set up a mourning tent in the village on Monday.
“We took the news of the martyrs’ death very hard,” one family member told Ynet. “It is still unclear to us why they were shot, even after hearing Israel’s version.”
Together with two others, 23-year-old Thaer Mahmoud and Nazih Mahmoud, 33, were killed Sunday after entering Israeli territory from the Syrian Druze town of Hader adjacent to the border.
Afif Mahmoud, their uncle in Majdal Shams, told Haaretz that relatives in Syria confirmed reports that the brothers were killed.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, four people who were “identified while clearly laying a mine” were shot and killed by an aircraft after being spotted crossing into Israeli territory.
The incident came a day after Israel reportedly hit several targets belonging to Hezbollah and the Syrian army in a series of air attacks in the Qalamoun area on the border between Syria and Lebanon.
There was no response from Hezbollah or from authorities in Syria or Lebanon following the attack.
The northern border has seen a number of flare-ups over the past year, including an attack on an Israeli convoy in January that left two soldiers dead.
Sunday’s incident occurred near the spot where four Israeli soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade were wounded in March 2014 when their patrol jeep ran over a mine.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.