Israel Secretly Agrees to Fund Vaccines for Syria as Part of Prisoner Swap
JERUSALEM — When a young Israeli woman was released from detention in Syria this week, after having been arrested for crossing illegally into Syria, the official story was that she had been the beneficiary of a straightforward prisoner swap. In return for her freedom, the Israeli government announced, she had been exchanged for two Syrian shepherds captured by the Israelis.
But if this deal between two enemy states, which have never shared diplomatic relations, sounded too swift and easy, it was. In secret, Israel had in fact also agreed to a far more contentious ransom: the financing of an undisclosed number of coronavirus vaccines for Syria, according to an official familiar with the content of the negotiations.
Under the deal, Israel will pay Russia, which mediated it, to send…