During the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel gained control of territory known as the Golan Heights from Syria. On October 6, 1973, war erupted again as Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack on Israel. While the conflict ultimately ended in an Israeli military victory and ceasefire later that month, tensions between Syria and Israel remained high.
In March 1974, the U.S. initiated negotiations between the two sides, resulting in an “Agreement on Disengagement.” The Agreement, which came into force on May 31, 1974, provided for an area of separation between Israeli and Syrian forces and two equal zones of control with limits on the number of troops and armaments that could be placed in each. The Agreement called for the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission to oversee its implementation.
Since then, UNDOF has successfully fulfilled its mandate, monitoring the area of separation and reporting on all breaches of the agreement. Though both parties have generally been compliant, continued tensions necessitated the maintenance of the peacekeeping presence. More recently, however, UNDOF’s ability to fulfill its mandate has been threatened by spillover from the Syrian civil war. Multiple parties to the conflict have violated the ceasefire agreement on a number of occasions, threatening broader regional stability, as well as the safety of UNDOF peacekeepers.
As Syrian pro-government forces and rebel groups continue to clash in and near UNDOF areas of operation, the situation along the border with Israel has grown volatile. In response to cross-border fire, Israel informed UNDOF that they would respond to all sources of fire. Thanks in part to UNDOF’s efforts, however, the situation along the Syrian-Israeli border has not escalated to greater violence.