Arab Israeli paraglides to Syria, possibly to join rebels: army

JERUSALEM (AFP) - An Arab Israeli has crossed into Syria using a paraglider with the apparent goal of joining rebel fighters there, the Israeli army said on Sunday (Oct 25).

"A surveillance post identified an Israeli civilian entering Syrian territory using a paraglider" late on Saturday, an army statement read.

"The preliminary review indicates that the civilian that entered is a resident of Jaljulia," an Arab town in central Israel.

A military spokeswoman told AFP the army was "examining the possibility he had entered Syria in order to join rebels."

The army said the paraglider took off from the southern section of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, adjacent to southern Syria.

The Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which is supportive of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and active in the Daraa area in south Syria, addressed rumours circulating about the flight on Saturday night, stating on its Facebook page it had not taken an Israeli captive.

According to the Shin Bet internal security agency, some 45 Arab Israelis have joined extremist forces in Syria, mainly entering through Turkey. At least four were killed in fighting there, and 10 were arrested upon returning to Israel.

The Shin Bet has warned of the "security threat posed by Israelis joining ISIS after being exposed to propaganda disseminated by the group, primarily via the Internet.

"Their return to Israel, with knowledge of and practical experience in terrorism and warfare, exposes the country to significant risks of severe terrorism," the agency said in a statement earlier in the year.