February 29, 2020

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US scolds UNDOF for equating Israeli defense with Syrian aggression


The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which maintains a buffer zone on the Israeli-Syrian border, issues regular reports of violations by both sides.

In September, it mentioned that Israel reported a projectile being shot at Mount Hermon:
The Israel Defense Forces informed UNDOF that, on 1 June, projectiles had been fired from the Bravo [Syrian] side towards a ski resort on Mount Hermon on the Alpha [Israeli] side. On 2 June, military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Observer Group Golan, who are under the operational control of UNDOF, inspected the site, which was about 100 m south of an Israel Defense Forces position, and found a crater and an indication that a projectile had been fired from an east-south-easterly direction. 

Israel was also found to violate the cease fire:

The military violations on the Alpha side included the presence of Iron Dome systems and multiple rocket launcher systems within 10 km of the ceasefire line, which are considered unauthorized military equipment in the area of limitation pursuant to the terms of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. 

Iron Dome, which is completely defensive, was called out as a violation.
The US, when writing a memo in support of continuing UNDOF operations in December, noted this jarring fact:
The United States believes UNDOF continues to have a vital role to play in preserving stability between Israel and Syria. We respect and recognize the Mission’s impartiality. This Council should be under no illusion however, that there is any equivalence between the noted violations on the Israeli and Syrian sides.

On November 19, four rockets were fired towards Israel from inside Syria. Those rockets were all intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, likely saving the lives of civilian men, women, and children. While UNDOF has flagged Iron Dome emplacements as technical violations of the Disengagement agreement, no comparison should be drawn between these defensive systems and Syrian violations.

Another interesting point from the US about how UNDOF might be affected by President Trump’s recognizing the Golan as part of Israel:

Much has been said about President Trump’s announcements earlier this year recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Today’s renewal demonstrates that the United States is committed to the 1974 Disengagement Agreement, and that this announcement in no way undermines UNDOF’s mandate.

(h/t Irene)

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