An Israeli woman who walked across the border into Syria in early February and was returned later that month after a flurry of international negotiations was sentenced Monday at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court to eight months in prison.
The woman, whose identity is barred from publication, has reportedly suffered from mental illness in the past.
Her lawyers thanked the court for taking their arguments on her mental health into account and giving her a “moderate, proportionate” sentence.
She was reported to be a 25-year-old from the settlement of Modiin Illit who left the ultra-Orthodox fold. It is unclear why she entered Syria. She apparently crossed at a less-monitored part of the border fence, on foot and on her own.
The woman was returned to Israel via Russia on February 19, in a deal brokered by Moscow. As part of the deal, Israel released several Syrian nationals in its custody and reportedly financed the purchase of $1.2 million worth of Russian-made COVID-19 vaccines for Syrian use.
After the woman was returned, she reportedly told Israeli investigators that she was “seeking adventure.”
According to Channel 12, she did not apologize or express regret for the trip. Investigators determined that she did not cooperate with any enemy entities while in Syria.
Her Facebook page shows her traveling often inside Israel, including in several Arab areas, and in the West Bank.
In one post, she wrote, “No one will restrict my movement or block the air I breathe, even if I die tomorrow or the next second. Until my final moment, I will be free.”
In another: “I am the eternal nomad. Always feel at home in my present place and a stranger in my birthplace.”
The venture into Syria was not the woman’s first brush with forbidden borders.
She was previously spotted by Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, according to a journalist affiliated with the terror group.
According to Israeli authorities, she had also twice tried to enter the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip — once by land and once on a makeshift raft — and once attempted to cross into Jordan. All three times, she was captured by either the military or the police.