Note on developments in UNDOF
1. On the morning of 6 June, heavy clashes between the Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) and armed members of the opposition occurred in the area of separation, particularly in the vicinity of Quneitra and Qataniyah near the Bravo Gate (the entry point on the Bravo side to and from the Israeli-occupied Golan, maintained by Syrian authorities). UNDOF also reported shelling in the vicinity of Khan Arnabeh, Al Samdaniyah and Trunji, and mortar fire in the United Nations Observation Post 52, in the area of separation. Tank shells and mortars impacted in the vicinity of United Nations Position 60A. As a result of the fighting, several impacts of indirect mortar and heavy-machine gun fire hit the UNDOF Logistic Base, Camp Ziouani, located on the Alpha side (Israeli-occupied Golan). Two UNDOF personnel at Camp Ziouani sustained minor injuries and are in stable condition. UNDOF is currently assessing the extent of the damage to the facility. During the fighting UNDOF personnel at United Nations Positions 22, 25, 27 and 60 in the area of separation took shelter in their positions. UNDOF personnel at the Charlie Gate (on the ceasefire line and manned by UNDOF) relocated temporarily to the Alpha side.
2. During the clashes, SAAF reinforced its presence in the area of separation with five main battle tanks and five armoured personnel carriers, moving in the direction of Quneitra. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) informed the UNDOF Force Commander that should the movement of SAAF tanks continue, the IDF would take action. Subsequently, the UNDOF Force Commander conveyed the message to the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate (SSAD), UNDOF’s main interlocutor on the Bravo side. The SSAD informed the UNDOF Force Commander that the presence of the tanks was solely for the purpose of fighting the armed members of the opposition and asked that the IDF not take action. Also, during the fighting, armed members of the opposition took control temporarily of the Bravo Gate. After several hours of Clashes between the SAAF and the armed members of the opposition, the SAAF regained control of the Bravo Gate and fighting in the area had subsided. Currently, four main battle tanks and three armoured personnel carriers remain in the area of separation, in violation of the Disengagement Agreement.
3. The SSAD informed UNDOF that SSAD Liaison Officers at the Bravo Gate suffered fatalities. The Government of Israel Liaison Officer informed UNDOF that the IDF had provided emergency medical treatment to a total of 16 armed members of the opposition, all of whom had been returned to the Bravo side. UNDOF does not have any additional information on casualties or fatalities among SAAF or armed members of the opposition.
4. Throughout the fighting, the UNDOF Force Commander remained in contact with both sides in an effort to prevent an escalation of the situation across the ceasefire line, and to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel.
5. As stated by the Secretary - General, further to the announced decision by the Government of Austria to withdraw its contingent from UNDOF, the United Nations is approaching Member States in an effort to identify urgently new contributors or additional contributions to UNDOF.
DPKO / 6 June 2013
Follow me on Twitter @NabilAbiSaab