Where in the world was UNDOF?

Judging by some of your comments on our recent updates on the attempted Syrian infiltration of Israel’s northern borders on June 5th and the previous one on May 15th, I’m not the only one wondering where the UNDOF forces stationed in the Golan Heights were on both those days and why they made no attempt to prevent or disband these obvious provocations.

As we have previously pointed out, UNDOF has a post very near to the site of the attempted infiltrations near Majdal Shams and its main camp on the Israeli side – Camp Ziouani – is literally meters away from the site of last Sunday’s riots at Kuneitra. 

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I therefore decided to try to solve the mystery myself and picked up the phone to call the Observer Group Golan’s headquarters in Tiberias. There was no reply.

I then telephoned the UN’s offices in Jerusalem, asking for an alternative relevant phone number and managed to reach the OGG’s Liaison Officer on his cell phone. Not his department, it seemed: I would have to speak to the Liaison Officer in the Golan itself. Could he give me that phone number? No – he didn’t remember it and happened to be out of the office.

So I called the UN office in Jerusalem again and asked for that number. After some searching around, I was given the phone number of the UNDOF headquarters in Damascus and that of the Duty Officer at the Golan Camp – a Syrian telephone number. So I called there, but unfortunately was not able to make much progress as whoever answered the telephone only spoke Arabic.

The next logical step seemed to be to try to contact UNDOF by e-mail, but as their website provides no contact details, I had to send the e-mail to ‘Peacekeeping Home at the UN. More than 24 hours have passed without a reply, so I have sent another request asking the same three fairly simple questions:

Why did UNDOF not act during the events of May 15th and June 5th?

Does the UN intend to investigate its own failure to prevent unnecessary loss of life on both those occasions?

What steps is UNDOF taking to prepare for any future events of this nature? 

I will keep readers updated if I get a reply.

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