RFL/RE – The Israeli military has confirmed that a female soldier was among the passengers on a plane that was forced to make an emergency landing in Iran last week, but managed to leave the country before being identified.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli soldier was a passenger on a flight from Tashkent to Dubai on October 27, but the pilot of the flight had fallen unconscious, leading to the plane making the emergency landing at Shiraz in southern Iran.
The Israeli Defense Forces said the 19-year-old Russian-speaking soldier, who serves in a “nonsensitive position in the IDF’s Northern Command,” had traveled to Uzbekistan for a vacation and to visit her family.
Israeli media reported that the soldier called her parents from Shiraz’s airport, and they notified her commander.
The details were eventually passed on to senior defense officials, who notified Prime Minister Yair Lapid during a cabinet meeting.
Reports also indicate that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, contacted the soldier while on the ground and instructed her to conceal her identity.
The soldier spent 11 hours in Iran and then again with other passengers, boarded a replacement plane and flew to the United Arab Emirates.
Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war. Tensions between Iran and Israel, its regional foe, have been soaring in recent years.
Tensions have also flared between the two countries as negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers remain deadlocked. In the absence of a deal that would curb Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Tehran has reduced its commitments and expanded its nuclear activities.
The report on the soldier comes as Tehran has accused Israel of carrying out a recent spate of assassinations and sabotage attacks inside the Islamic republic.
Some reports suggest that Israeli airman Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, was reportedly sent to Iran. It is also believed that William Buckley, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Beirut chief of station who was taken hostage in 1984, was sent to Iran for interrogation and tortured to death. Iran has rejected both reports.