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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Syrian army entered DMZ near Israel, UN; fired mortar

From Ha'aretz:
Syrian army forces crossed the demilitarized zone near the border with Israel in the Golan Heights last week, a highly unusual incident, on what is considered a quiet border.

Following the incident, in which 500 soldiers and 50 vehicles crossed into the demilitarized zone, Israel filed a formal complaint to the UN secretary general and to the president of the UN's Security Council, warning that the event may have serious ramifications.

The Syrian soldiers entered the demilitarized zone last Thursday. The Syrian forces entered the area near the Syrian village of Jubata Al Khashab, a few kilometers east of the Israeli Druze village of Mas'ada in the northern part of the Golan Heights.
Israel complained to the UN about the breach.

It didn't seem to help:
A mortar shell exploded on the Syrian side of the Israel- Syria border Monday evening.

The projectile landed within the demilitarized zone's limits, about 400 meters from the border fence.

The mortar shell exploded near the Syrian village of Jubata al-Khahasb, and not far from the Golan Heights Druze village of Massaada.

Residents of the Golan Heights as well as IDF sources said the echoes of the fighting raging in Syria are heard in Israel, with fires and smoke seen clearly from across the border.
This is not the first time Syrian forces pushed close to the border.

In March:
Blue-helmeted United Nations peacekeeping troops patrolling a slice of Syrian territory to maintain a ceasefire with Israel face new risks as violence between Syrian government loyalists and rebels gets closer.

In this tiny corner of Syria where the United Nations has a little-noticed foothold, peacekeepers stayed in their bunkers listening this month as several Syrians were reportedly killed by gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) did not publicise the incident, and there was no report from Israeli forces whose nearby hilltop observation units possibly saw or heard at least one of two gunbattles in the valley below.

The Israel Defence Forces this week declined comment and there was no report of the incident in Croatia, whose president had visited Croat troops in the Golan just two weeks earlier.

This apparent desire to play down the threat reflects the tension gripping a small UN operation that ran successfully for 36 years and now faces a new challenge as a year-long Syrian uprising against Assad turns ever more violent.
I'm not so sure that UNDOF has been that effective in patrolling the border. After all, last year they allowed Syrians - under government control - to infiltrate Israel, violating their own rules.

At any rate, things are heating up very, very close to Israel, and the UN is not going to do anything to stop it.