In a major security breach, an Israeli Arab, 23, was able to fly by paraglider across into Syria from the southwestern village of Mevo Hama Saturday, Oct. 24, southwestern Golan without being intercepted – although an IDF spotter had reported the event. The pilot came from the Israeli Arab town of Jaljuliya east of Kfar Saba near the West Bank. His defection, apparently to the Islamic State, was clearly organized in advance. His landing in Syria was secured by a party from the jihadist group who came to pick him up.
The massive air-and-ground search operation the Israeli military scrambled came too late.
“We believe he planned this move to the other side, and joined a group there," Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz told reporters during a conference call Sunday morning, after a gag order on the story was lifted. Another IDF statement said that Israeli forces are still trying to ascertain the person's intentions
debkafile’s military sources count this event as a particularly grave security lapse for the following reasons:
1. The Shin Bet was clearly taken unawares of a conspiracy for the Israeli Arab’s flight.
2. No one discovered that a paraglider was being assembled in secret at Mevo Hama or had it brought there unnoticed. And who helped him launch it?
3. How did he set up communication with ISIS-Syria without being detected by Israeli security?
4. How did the preparations on the Syrian side to receive the pilot escape the attention of IDF military intelligence?
5. Why was no one on the spot authorized to shoot the paraglider shot down before it flew across the border? By the time the report went through channels, the bird had flown.
ISIS claims it has taken an “Israeli pilot” captive.
Our military sources add that the paraglider operation was set up by a hostile element to test Israel’s defenses in three areas:
- The efficiency of IDF spotter posts across the Golan. The glider was indeed sighted and reported.
- Israeli Air force operations in Golan – which were indeed found with holes that can be used for penetration.
- Israel’s air defense on the Golan. This episode exposed the absence of a commander with authority to act with dispatch to foil an unforeseen event.
In other words, Israel’s defenses were wide open to attack Saturday.