Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

United Nations: Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

On 6 October 1973, war erupted in the Middle East between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Suez Canal area and the Sinai, and between Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights. On 24 October, as fighting between Egypt and Israel reached a critical stage, the Security Council decided to set up a second United Nations Emergency Force UNEF II. The Force was immediately moved into place between the Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, and its arrival effectively stabilized the situation.

In the Israel-Syria sector tension remained high, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. Against this background, the United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the conclusion of an Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces. The Agreement provided for an area of separation and for two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the area, and called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation. The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the Security Council adopted resolution 350 (1974) by which it set up UNDOF. The mission has continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties.

The Syrian civil war that began in -- raised tensions and the prospect of the fighting spilling over into Israel and provoking a war. Despite a few cross-border incidents, peace along the border has remained fairly calm. When fighting between the government and rebel groups threatened their security, the peacekeepers left their outposts. After a four year absence, they returned at the end of 2018.

The mandate of UNDOF has since been renewed every six months. As of the end of 2018, it has only 975 troops and an annual budget of $60.3 million.

Sources: United Nations;
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Assaf Orion, “All is quiet on Iran’s western front, say UN peacekeepers,” The Hill, (December 11, 2018).