Israel on Saturday named the two Syrian prisoners it will release in return for the remains of fallen IDF soldier Zachary Baumel, which were recovered by Russian soldiers in Syria earlier this year.
Hamis Ahmed, 35, is a Fatah activist from the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria. He was caught in 2005 as he plotted to infiltrate an IDF base in the southern Golan Heights in order to harm and possibly kidnap soldiers. He was initially set to be released in 2023.
The second prisoner is Zeidan Tawil, 57, a resident of Khader, Syria, who was imprisoned in 2008 for drug smuggling. He was to be released in July.
The security establishment maintained that there was no deal between Israel and Syria, but since the return of Baumel to Israel, with the assistance of Russian intelligence, Damascus has expressed outrage at the move and the regime demanded something in return for what was seemingly concocted by Israel and Russia right under their noses over the last two years.
Russia applied pressure on Israel to pacify Damascus and deliver Syrian President Bashar Assad some sort of goodwill gesture. Russia also acted a mediator to secure the release of the two Syrians.
Meanwhile, Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria have continued, according to foreign news sources.
In any case, as far as the Defense Ministry is concerned, in principal there is no change in its original policy regarding providing anything in exchange for the missing soldiers and a source said that the decision was taken after Baumel was returned as a "goodwill gesture."