Tension on Israel-syria Front

Tension continued to run high on the Israel-Syria front today despite reports from Damascus that Syria is prepared to agree to a six-month extension of the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observers Force (UNDOF) which expires tomorrow midnight. Israelis especially disturbed by the evacuation of the 9000-foot peak of Mt. Hermon by an Austrian contingent of UNDOF. The peak was made uninhabitable by the early onset of winter weather.

While the Israelis understand this, they are nevertheless uneasy because Syrian forces can now reach the peak by way of a road they built in violation of the disengagement accords. The Austrians, moreover, abandoned their positions without informing Israel beforehand.

Israel and Syria, meanwhile, have each accused the other of disengagement violations. Israel lodged a protest with UNDOF yesterday over Syria’s destruction of a fortified position in the buffer zone which Israeli forces left behind when they evacuated the zone. A Syrian army unit entered the zone in contravention of the agreement and leveled the position with tractors. Israel charged.

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