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Syria Violating Golan Ceasefire Agreement, Says UN Leader

UN Secretary-General says that Syria is violating the agreement that separated Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/4/2012, 5:15 AM

Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-Moon
AFP photo

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Syria on Monday of serious violations of the 1974 agreement that separated Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.

"I am concerned that the presence of armed members of the opposition and the ongoing military activities of the Syrian security forces have the potential to ignite a larger conflict between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic with grave consequences," Ban said in a report to the UN Security Council, the contents of which were distributed Monday.

"There should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation,” he added.

The UN chief noted that such activity poses a risk to the ceasefire, to the local civilian population and to UN personnel on the ground.

There have been several incidents of the civil war in Syria spilling over into the Golan Heights recently.

The last two incidents occurred last week, when residents of the religious Zionist town of Alonei Habashan, which is less than a kilometer from the border, reported that they heard explosions near the town, perhaps a result of a mortar shell that had been fired from Syria.

In a second incident the same night, an IDF vehicle was hit by bullets fired from Syrian territory into Israel during the fighting between the sides. There were no injuries or damage.

Several weeks ago, as IDF troops were patrolling along the border fence with Syria, their jeep was hit with some bullets that were fired from the Syrian side of the border. No one was hurt, but the IDF acted in accordance with the new rules of engagement and responded shortly thereafter with artillery fire at a building on the other side of the border.

The IDF changed the rules of engagement along the Syrian border after the fighting in Syria spilled over into Israel more than once.

The new orders instruct soldiers to respond if fire from Syria is dangerous and persistent.

Last Thursday, two Austrian soldiers stationed with the UN force on the Golan Heights were shot and wounded in Syria while their convoy was travelling to the Damascus airport.

The pair were part of the Austrian contingent of the United Nations Disengagement Observers Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights and were travelling to Damascus airport to fly back to Austria after their tour of duty.

The two soldiers were flown by helicopter to the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where they received medical treatment.