Long before Wednesday’s kidnapping of UN peacekeepers in the Syrian Golan Heights, segments of the the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF) knew their mission was taking a turn for the worse.
In January, the Japanese government, alarmed by the quickly deteriorating security situation in southern Syria, withdrew its troops from UNDOF, bringing the number of peacekeepers to below 1,000.
After the current hostage crisis is resolved, the remaining countries that make up UNDOF – the Philippines, India, and Austria – may choose to reconsider their presence, as battles rage between Syrian rebels, some of them radical jihadis, and the Assad regime.
UNDOF was established in 1974 to act as a wedge between Israeli and Syrian forces, and oversee the ceasefire in place since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. But today, UNDOF is struggling to carry out its duties in the upheavals of a Syria ravaged by a bloody civil war.
The IDF is prepared for the possibility of an UNDOF withdrawal, just as it is ready for the presence of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (The Salvation Front), a rebel organization set up by al-Qaida in Iraq. According to recent security evaluations, radical rebel elements have established control in a number of Syrian villages close to the Israeli border, and are now in the midst of intense fighting with the Syrian army in the village of Jamla, also close to the border.
Israel has long been on high – yet quiet – alert on its border with Syria, as the IDF observes the battles taking place under its nose, just over the frontier.
Soldiers can hear artillery fire and see the movement of rebel gunmen and Syrian soldiers. Although a new border fence with electronic sensors has been erected, the army is under no illusion that a hi-tech obstacle can stop all attacks. It is preparing for the potential of future jihadi attacks from the Syrian Golan, which might take the form of shells, small arms fire, attempts to infiltrate the border or bombings.
The current UN hostage crisis is being viewed by the IDF as an internal Syrian affair which has no direct consequences for Israeli security. At the same time, it is an unmistakable signal that the Syrian Golan is heading down the road of anarchy, and is quickly becoming a hotbed for gunmen with radical affiliations as Syria continues its slow-motion collapse.
Hamas: Obama Visit to Temple Mount – a Declaration of WarHamas and Islamic Jihad say that a visit by Obama to the Temple Mount will be a declaration of war on the Islamic world.
CanadaFirst Publish: 3/8/2013, 9:40
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups threatened on Friday that a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Temple Mount during his upcoming visit to Israel will be a declaration of war on the Arab and the Islamic world.A Hamas representative in the Al-Aqsa mosque, Mushir al-Masri, even called for a third intifada uprising and for Egyptian assistance in the “resistance” if Obama chooses to visit the Temple Mount.According to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, the Gaza-based terrorist organizations made the threats during a protest march on Friday over the riots that broke out earlier in the day on the Temple Mount.According to the report, Khalid al-Batash, a senior Islamic Jihad member, also called to prevent Obama from visiting the compound.Obama will be arriving in the region later this month, and PA media has been widely speculating that he plans to visit the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, Washington is not planning such a visit.Political and religious leaders in the Palestinian Authority have stressed that Obama should not visit the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a way that might compromise what they called its “Muslim sovereignty.”Sheikh Akrameh Sabri, head of the higher Islamic council and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, said that Obama must enter through a gate that was not under Israeli auspices.”Any visitor is welcome to Al-Aqsa, but they should follow the regulations of the Waqf and enter through the Lions’ Gate and not through Mughrabi Gate, to ensure Muslim sovereignty,” he said. Israel liberated the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six Day War, leaving the Waqf in charge of the compound.The Waqf, in return, has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site and has consistently destroyed Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.Several Israeli police officers and Muslim worshippers were injured during the Temple Mount riots on Friday afternoon.The riots began when the worshippers started throwing rocks at security forces.Police stationed at the Mughrabi gate broke in and began to throw stun grenades to disperse the stone throwers. The rioters responded with firebombs.According to the police, nine officers and five protesters were injured during the incident. Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.
Islam Hijacking the UN Human Rights Council
Khamenei: Iran Needs More Concessions (U.S. Institute of Peace)
On March 7, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that Western nations only acknowledged a ”fraction” of Iran’s nuclear rights. ”Western nations did not accomplish anything that can be construed as a concession.”
Khamenei said Iran must wait until the next round of talks in April to assess the ”integrity” of the world’s six major powers.
Greece, Israel and the United States on Thursday began a naval exercise in the sea around Crete and the eastern Mediterranean.
Called “Noble Dina,” it will last 15 days and involves simulated combat against submarines, air battles and protection of offshore natural gas platforms. The same exercise was held in the Mediterranean last year.
Greece is participating with a frigate, a helicopter and a submarine.
Women Officers Outnumber Men in the IDF – Lilach Shoval, Zeev Klein and Shlomi Diaz (Israel Hayom)
Women’s roles in the IDF have undergone numerous changes in recent years.
Some 34% of Israelis serving in the IDF are women, 57% of all officers are women, 28% of career officers are women, and 92% of all army positions are open to women.