Russia is negotiating for the release of a Golan Heights resident serving time in an Israeli jail for spying on IDF positions on behalf of Syria intelligence, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a forum representing Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The Russian military attaché to Israel met with Sidqi al-Maqt this week, the group said, and offered him a deal to be released to Damascus. Maqt is said to have rejected the deal, demanding that he instead be allowed to return to his home town in the Israeli Golan Heights.
Maqt, from the Druze town of Majdal Shams, was sentenced to 14 years behind bars in 2017 for spying on IDF positions on behalf of Syria intelligence. He was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of passing photographs and written reports of IDF positions to Syrian intelligence officials.
In April, Israel released two other Syrian prisoners back to Syria as a “goodwill gesture” to Damascus following the return nearly a month earlier of the remains of IDF soldier Zachary Baumel, who was presumed killed in the 1982 Lebanon War.
The two men were identified by Israel as a drug smuggler and a Fatah operative jailed 14 years ago for an attempted attack on IDF soldiers.
At the time there were reports, which turned out to be false, that Maqt and another Syrian prisoner, Abu Salah, jailed in 2016 for manslaughter, were also set to be released as part of the same agreement.