1. The Yom Kippur War commenced on 06 October 1973, when in a surprise joint attack, Egypt attacked Israeli forces on the Suez Canal and in the Sinai while Syria attacked Israeli forces on the Golan Heights. To end the war, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 338 on 22 October 1973 calling for an immediate ceasefire.
2. Despite UN mediation, tensions remained high on the Israel-Syria front, till an "Agreement on Disengagement" between the Israeli and Syrian Forces was signed on 31 May 1974. The ‘Protocol’ to the ‘Agreement’ facilitated establishment of UNDOF. This arrangement was formalized under UN Resolution 350 of 31 May 1974. The ‘Agreement’ provided for an ‘Area of Separation’ with no military presence and two equal ‘Areas of Limitation’ with restricted number (actual numbers specified) of Military Forces and Armaments on both sides of the Area of Separation.
3. The Area of Separation is 80 km long, and 0.5 to 10 km in width, forming an area of 235 sq km. The zone separates the Israeli Occupied Golan Heights and Syria where the Israeli border is known as the "Alpha" line and the Syrian border is known as the "Bravo" line. The zone also borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than one km with Jordan to the south. The Areas of Limitation are on both sides of the Area of Separation with 10, 20 and 25 Km zones.
4. The mandate of UNDOF is to use its best efforts to maintain the ceasefire and to see that it is scrupulously observed. It is also to supervise the ‘Agreement’ and ‘Protocol to the Agreement’ with regard to the Areas of Separation and Limitation.
UNDOF Composition and Deployment
5. In its current form, UNDOF comprises of a Military Component of a Force HQ, two Line Battalions (Austria with a Company from Croatia and Poland), and one Logistics Battalion (India with a Contingent from Japan). The composition of the Military component is at Appendix A. Observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization's Observer Group Golan are under the operational control of the Force Commander UNDOF. The Force is supported by United Nations International (Approximately 40) and National (Approximately 100) civilian staffs. The deployment of the Force is at Appendix P.
Current UNDOF Activities
6. The Syria- Israel Area of Separation has remained the most stable in the region since signing of the ‘Agreement’ in 1974. It is on account of both the geostrategic compulsions of the parties as also, success of UNDOF in implementing its Mandate. The Force acts as a single point contact between the two nations on all issues concerning activity in the AOS and AOL. UNDOF’s current regular operations include the following:-
(a) Supervision of the Area of Separation including the ongoing civilian projects undertaken by the Syrian authorities and prevent crossing of the A-line by civilians.
(b) Monitoring of Syrian and Israeli military presence in the Area of Limitation (from permanent observation posts and by patrols during day/night).
(c) Intervention in cases of entry to the Area of Separation by military personnel from either side, or attempted operations.
(d) Bi-weekly inspections of over 500 Israeli and Syrian military locations in the Areas of Limitation on each side to ensure agreed limits of equipment and forces are being followed.
(e) Assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the crossing of mail, agricultural products and people through the area, and in the provision of medical services.
(f) Identifying and marking of minefields.
(g) Promotion of minefield awareness amongst civilians and support of the United Nations Children’s Fund activities in this area.
(h) Registration of protest/violation observed in the AOS/AOL to UN HQ at New York.
Current and Emerging Issues
7. The Israeli Defence Forces follow a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ being extremely sensitive to any activity in the vicinity of the A Line. Therefore, in the current context, on the Syrian side, the Civilian situation is perhaps of more relevance to UNDOF than the Military situation. According to the 1974 Disengagement Agreement, there is no restriction on civilian presence in the Area of Separation (AOS). However, in terms of maintenance of the ceasefire and continuation of the prevalent quiet situation on the Golan Heights, it is the civilian activities that are of significance for UNDOF. In this regard, the following emerging issues assume importance:-
(a) Developmental projects in the vicinity of the A Line.
(b) Movement of civilians (Shepherds, mushroom collectors, hunters, etc) across the A Line.
(c) Agricultural/Horticultural activities across the A Line.
(d) Smuggling activities across the Technical Fence.
8. The environment in the Middle East region is so sensitive and the issues so intricate that even a small incident can snowball into a major crisis. Therefore, every move of Syrian civilians in the vicinity of the A-Line has to be understood in this light and needs to be prevented.
9. The Indian Battalion (LOGBATT) is located on the Israel side in the AOL at Camp Ziouani and is the first Indian unit to be employed in logistic operations in any UN mission. The unit was deployed in March 2006. It has strength of 11 Officers, 35 JCOs and 137 OR. In addition, eight officers and one OR are part of the Force HQ Staff.
10. Tasks. LOGBATT has the following tasks:-
(a) Primary Task. To provide second line logistics support to UNDOF to include communication & IT, construction engineering transportation, supply and maintenance.
(b) Secondary Tasks.
(i) Security of Camp Ziouani.
(ii) Deploy a Rapid Reaction Group for security of Camp ZIOUANI and to act as Force Reserve to be employed by UNDOF HQ.
(iii) Run the international kitchen at Camp Ziouani.
(iv) On orders assist in the evacuation of Camp Faouar UN civilian personnel and their dependents and also UN troops inside the camp.