UN personnel abducted on Israel-Syria border

Thursday, March 07, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

The abduction of about 20 UN peacekeepers by Syrian rebel forces along the border of the Golan Heights on Wednesday has Israel concerned for the future.

While rebel officials insisted the victims were being treated well and would be released as soon as forces loyal to the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad withdraw from the area, Israel fears the incident could lead to the UN ending its 39-year-mission along the border.

Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the subsequent establishment of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Syrian border has been Israel's quietest frontier.

But that has already started to change as civil war rages in Syria. On numerous occasions, shells fired by both rebel and government forces in Syria have landed in Israel. After Wednesday's abduction, the UN might decide it's too risky and costly to remain deployed in the Golan.

Were UNDOF to pull out, Israeli officials are fairly certain that Syrian rebel elements with ties to Al Qaeda and other international Islamist groups would begin operating in the area, resulting in a situation where Israeli forces might have to launch incursions into Syria.

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