IDF sends back man intercepted crossing into Israel from Syria
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IDF sends back man intercepted crossing into Israel from Syria

Unarmed infiltrator captured, interrogated shortly after he breached border into Golan Heights, released a day later

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Smoke billowing from the Syrian village of Qahtaniya, near the border with Israel, following explosions during fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel fighters, on September 5, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Jack Guez)
Smoke billowing from the Syrian village of Qahtaniya, near the border with Israel, following explosions during fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel fighters, on September 5, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Jack Guez)

An unidentified man who crossed into Israel from Syria was sent back to the war-torn country on Wednesday, a day after he was interrogated by Israeli security forces, the army said.

The man was unarmed when he breached the security fence in the southern Golan Heights on Tuesday afternoon.

Unlike a Lebanese man who last month illegally entered Israel and traveled over two miles before he was captured, the Syrian infiltrator was arrested close the border, a short time after he entered the country.

He was questioned by the Shin Bet security service to determine why he crossed into Israel from Syria, the army said on Tuesday.

The Shin Bet did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the man’s motivations for crossing the border.

On April 27, the aforementioned Lebanese man entered Israel near the community of Margaliot on the northern border. He walked just over three kilometers to the nearby city of Kiryat Shmona where he was arrested at a bus station, after people noticed him behaving strangely.

In an interview on Lebanese television, the man’s father confirmed this account, saying his son suffered from mental health issues and believed he was Jewish.

“My son’s mind is not right. He says he was originally Jewish,” the father said when asked if he was aware of his son’s desire to go to Israel. “Can you imagine a normal person doing such a thing?”

Two senior IDF officers and four other servicemen from the IDF’s Northern Command were punished over that incident. The deputy commander of the company responsible for the area where the Lebanese man entered Israel was dismissed from his position, and the battalion commander of the area received an official black mark on his record, the army said, noting their failings in handling the breach.

Four other officers and soldiers also faced disciplinary hearings.

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