8 June 2016Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations
Disengagement Observer Force for the period from 1 March to 20 May 2016
1. The present report gives an account of the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) during the past three months, pursuant to the mandate contained in Security Council resolution 350 (1974) and extended in subsequent resolutions, most recently resolution 2257 (2015).
II. Situation in the area and activities of the Force
2. During the reporting period, the ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic was maintained, albeit in a continuously volatile environment attributable to the ongoing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic and notwithstanding a significant number of violations of the Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian Forces (Disengagement of Forces Agreement) of 1974, which are set out below. The Syrian Arab Armed Forces and non-State armed opposition groups engaged in exchanges of heavy weapon fire in the area of separation and the area of limitation. Different armed groups, including the listed terrorist group Nusrah Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, continued to exchange fire in the UNDOF area of operation. Inside the area of separation, the presence of the Syrian armed forces and military equipment, as well as any other armed personnel and military equipment other than that of UNDOF, is in violation of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. As underscored by the Security Council in its resolution 2257 (2015), there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation.
3. In employing its best efforts to maintain the ceasefire and see that it is scrupulously observed, as prescribed in the Disengagement of Forces Agreement, UNDOF reports all breaches of the ceasefire line. All incidents of firing into the area of separation and across the ceasefire line, as well as the crossing by individuals of the ceasefire line, are violations of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. In his regular interaction with both sides, the Force Commander continued to call upon both parties to exercise restraint and prevent any miscalculations that might lead to an escalation of the situation across the ceasefire line.
4. A number of incidents of note occurred across the ceasefire line in violation of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. On two occasions, Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired small arms shots at persons carrying out activities close to the ceasefire line on the Bravo side. On 28 February, United Nations personnel at position 80 observed three persons on the Bravo side, close to the ceasefire line, with two of them removing metal poles from the ground. Subsequently, an Israel Defense Forces soldier on foot, approximately 700 metres from United Nations position 80, fired a single shot that impacted close to the third person, who immediately boarded a vehicle and drove off from the location with the other two individuals. On 23 March, United Nations personnel at position 80 also observed an Israel Defense Forces patrol fire two rounds of gunfire in the general direction of three persons working in a field in the area of separation close to the ceasefire line. The three persons immediately left the area in the direction of Rafid village.
5. Crossing of the ceasefire line by civilians, primarily shepherds, from the Bravo side to the Alpha side was observed on an almost daily basis. On a number of occasions on 9, 10 and 28 March and 11 April, United Nations personnel at observation post 54 observed interaction at the Israeli technical fence between the Israel Defense Forces personnel and individuals from the Bravo side, some of whom were armed. The interactions involved vehicles from the Bravo side driving to an Israeli technical fence gate. United Nations personnel at observation post 51 observed, on 20 April, five Israel Defense Forces soldiers escort an unarmed individual to a gate in the Israeli technical fence, which they subsequently opened for the unarmed person to cross from the Alpha side into the area of separation. The individual was then picked up on the Bravo side by a person in a vehicle that drove off towards the village of Ruwayhinah.