Israel Complains UNDOF Redeployment on Syrian Border Too Slow

UNDOF members in the Golan Heights in 2014. (Flash90)

Following a complaint from Israel, the United Nations Security Council directed the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force to redeploy along the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire lines on the Golan Heights.

Earlier this month, Israel requested UNDOF to return to the Syrian side of the border, in accordance with its mandate.

Although UNDOF has agreed to do so, an Israeli diplomatic official said the redeployment has been “very slow,” and “there is no hard timetable.”

The official pointed out that Israel is only asking UNDOF to do its job, since “that is where they belong, that is their mandate.”

In addition, he said, when the observers are on the Israeli side of the border, they are focusing on what Israel is doing, rather than watching and reporting what is happening on the other side.

Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and after a contingent of 22 peacekeepers from the Philippines were kidnapped and held for three days by a group affiliated with Islamic State in 2013, much of the 1,000-strong UNDOF contingent moved to the Israeli side of the border.

The U.N. peacekeeping force is comprised of units from Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Finland, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands.