The flight of hundreds of UN Disengagement and Observers Force (UNDOF) soldiers – Indian, Austrian and Filipino – in trucks and APCs from the Syrian side of Golan into Israel was in full swing early Monday, March 11. DEBKAfile quotes them as telling Israeli officers manning the Israeli side of the enclave that their commanders urged them to get out when they could because “We can no longer vouch for your safety.”
Many more UN troops are expected to make their way during the day to refuge in IDF camps across the border. Their officers, they said, had already placed their belongings aboard waiting vehicles ready to move across as soon as they received permission from their governments in Vienna, New Delhi and Manila or the UN Secretariat in New York.
Our military sources report that this mass exit signals the breakup of the 1,000-strong UNDOF which for 39 years manned the 8 sq. km separation zone between Syria and Israel. It was set up in 1974 to end the war of attrition fought in the sequel to the Yom Kippur War between the IDF and Cuban armored brigades flown in from Angola by the Soviet Union to support the Syrian army.
The UN force’s collapse began with the Croatian government’s recall of its 100 troops last week.
As the peacemakers flee, Russia is today hardly likely to interfere with who gets to control the Golan separation zone which was split between Syria and Israel.
DEBKAfile reports three potential candidates are eying the sliver of land for different reasons: