IDF won’t punish soldiers for failing to detect woman’s crossing into Syria

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

A military investigation into how an Israeli woman crossed into Syria earlier this month finds that while troops on the ground failed to spot the border breach, which became an international incident, no soldiers are believed to have acted against orders, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson says.

According to the probe, which was conducted by the IDF Northern Command, the woman, whose name is barred from publication, arrived to the Druze village of Majdal Shams on February 1. She evidently knew the area where she planned to cross into Syria well and set off the following morning.

She climbed a security fence — an older, lower barrier than the more robust steel fencing used elsewhere along the border — triggering a sensor, alerting the military to a possible breach.

A soldier operating a security camera scanned the area for signs of an infiltration. However, as the protocols that the soldier was following focused was on people entering Israel, rather than leaving it, the Israeli woman’s breach went undetected as she had already crossed into Syria.

As a result, the surveillance camera operator did not call in ground troops to investigate and dismissed the alert.

The military says that the soldiers involved followed their protocols so there is no room for punishment, but that the episode will be studied in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Israeli woman who crossed into Syria and was returned in a deal brokered by Russia, in a picture shown by Channel 13 on February 20, 2021 (Channel 13 screenshot)
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