Israel Prisoner Swap Includes Vaccines for Syria, Report Says

Israel agreed to buy hundreds of thousands of doses of Russian-made coronavirus vaccine for Syria as part of a prisoner swap deal, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday, without saying where it got the information.

According to the report, the vaccine purchase was stipulated in a secret clause in a Russian-brokered deal to return an Israeli woman who crossed the border into Syria. In exchange, Israel agreed to return two shepherds who crossed from Syria into Israeli territory, and pardoned a Druze woman from the Israeli-held section of the Golan Heights who had been sentenced to community service. The Ynet website said she was convicted of monitoring and photographing Israeli soldiers along the frontier.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency denied the report of the vaccine clause, saying it was a lie meant to improve Israel’s image.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said only that Israel didn’t give the Syrians any vaccine from its own inventory, Ynet said. He didn’t comment directly on whether Israel bought Russian-made vaccines for Syria.

Read more: Feb. 18, Israel Returns Two Shepherds to Syria as Prisoner Swap Reported

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