The Israeli military reports it is ready for the possibility of the UN Disengagement Observation Force (DOF) withdrawing from the buffer zone between Syria and Israel, a prospect increasingly likely as the civil war worsens in this area, and which could set the stage for renewed Israeli aggression along the frontier.
Japan and Croatia had already withdrawn troops from the DOF in the past few months, and this week’s incident in which Syrian rebels kidnapped 21 soldiers from the Philippines likely has the remaining nations rethinking their involvement.
The DOF has been in place since 1974, overseeing the often tenuous ceasefire between Israel and Syria, but has found itself neither authorized nor able to deal with the outbreak of civil war nationwide.
Since the kidnappings the drop in morale among the observer troops is palpable, and Israel reported eight more Philippines soldiers have abandoned their post, fleeing to the Israeli side for fear that the rebels would add them to their kidnap victims.
Israel has been talking up the prospect of invading Syria to seize more territory in the Golan Heights since the US “green-lit” a previous round of Israeli air strikes and reportedly gave permission to launch future attacks at will. This would nominally be a security buffer zone, but it should be noted that Israel already occupied a previous “buffer zone” of Syria, and has since annexed it.