Golan Heights - UNDOF Supervision

UNDOF Supervision

UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) was established in 1974 to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement and maintain the ceasefire with an area of separation known as the UNDOF Zone. Currently there are more than 1,000 UN peacekeepers there trying to sustain a lasting peace. Details of the UNDOF mission, mandate, map and military positions can be accessed via the following United Nations link. Syria and Israel still contest the ownership of the Heights but have not used overt military force since 1974. The great strategic value of the Heights both militarily and as a source of water means that a deal is uncertain. Members of the UN Disengagement force are usually the only individuals who cross the Israeli-Syrian de facto border (cease fire "Alpha Line"), but since 1988 both Israel and Syria have taken measures to relieve the problems encountered by the Druze population of the Golan Heights. Since 1988 Israel has allowed Druze pilgrims to cross into the rest of Syria to visit the shrine of Abel on Mount Qasioun. In 2005, Syria allowed a few trucks of Druze-grown Golan apples to be imported. The trucks themselves were driven by Kenyan nationals. Since 1967, Druze brides have been allowed to cross the Golan border into the rest of Syria, but they do so in the knowledge that the journey is a one-way trip.

Israel began constructing settlements in the territory in the 1970s. The area was governed by military administration until 1981 when Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended Israeli law and administration throughout the territory. This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497, although Israel asserts it has a right to retain the area, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, which calls for "safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force". The continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights remains highly contested and is still regarded as belligerent occupation by most countries, but is recognised by many states as a valid military tactic in an unresolved conflict, consistent with the self-defence provision of the UN charter. However, the international community rejects the validity of the Golan Heights Law as an attempted annexation by force, illegal under the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. Israeli settlements and human rights policy in the occupied territory have also drawn criticism from the UN.

Though the cease fire in the UNDOF zone has been largely uninterrupted since the seventies, in 2012 there have been repeated violations from the Syrian side, including tanks and live fire, though these incidents are attributed to the ongoing fighting within Syria, rather than intentionally directed towards Israel.

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