Head of UN peacekeepers in Golan Heights dies
Israel and United Nations pay tribute to Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana, a veteran of several peacekeeping missions
Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana, Head of the UNDOF peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, who died April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/UN)
Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri, the Ghanian head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, died Friday, the UN said.
Vib-Sanziri, 62, who had commanded the multi-national force since September 2017, reportedly died of a heart attack while in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat.
His death comes weeks after the UN renewed the mandate of the 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that was dispatched to a buffer zone between Israel and Syria in the Golan in 1974, tasked with monitoring a ceasefire in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
It also comes just weeks after the US recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Israel captured the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and in 1981 effectively annexed the area, in a move never recognized by the rest of international community, which considers the Golan Heights to be occupied Syrian territory.
IDF and UNDOF soldiers at the Quneitra Crossing between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, as it reopens after four years, on October 15, 2018. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Israel paid tribute to Vib-Sanziri who led the force during the difficult period where the Syrian side was engulfed by the civil war and the scene of frequent fighting.
“His experience & leadership were invaluable in commanding UNDOF under difficult and complex circumstances. We pray for his family in this time of mourning,” said a statement from the Israeli Mission to the UN.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” and noted his long service in peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Lebanon, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.We extend our deepest condolences to the UN and Ghana on the sudden passing of Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri, Head of UNDOF. His experience & leadership were invaluable in commanding UNDOF under difficult and complex circumstances. We pray for his family in this time of mourning. pic.twitter.com/H6R29BBK5L
— Israel Mission to UN (@IsraelinUN) April 19, 2019
“The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to General Vib-Sanziri’s family and loved ones and to the Government and the Armed Forces of Ghana,” the statement said.
UNIFIL reportedly instructed to expand patrols in south Lebanon
Lebanese paper claims UN peacekeepers have been told to widen operations to better monitor Hezbollah’s weapons and activities near the Israeli border
A picture taken from the southern Lebanese village of Meiss al-Jabal on December 16, 2018, shows a United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldier monitoring the border between Lebanon and Israel. On his right is a flag of the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
United Nations forces in southern Lebanon have been instructed to boost and expand their patrols recently to new areas in a bid to better monitor Hezbollah weaponry, Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported Friday.
The report by the newspaper, which has ties to the Iran-backed terror group, had no outside confirmation.
Al-Akhbar claimed the recent weeks have seen UNIFIL peacekeepers receive instructions “to add new routes to their patrols and to enter areas they had not previously entered south of the Litani [river] under the pretext of full implementation of the Resolution 1701,” which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
According to that resolution, Hezbollah was to disarm entirely in the area between the Litani and the Israeli border. Israel has repeatedly accused the terror group of failing to do so, and of stockpiling numerous short- and medium-range rockets in southern Lebanon.
An unidentified source with security knowledge quoted by the paper said UNIFIL had been told to patrol certain new areas to look into possible Hezbollah weapons presence.
The source added that when the US military attaché in Lebanon visited UNIFIL headquarters last May, he warned of potential budget cuts by Washington if peacekeepers do not take a stronger stance to limit Hezbollah activities.
The paper claimed the new measures threaten the 13 years of stability in the region.
United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) military police cars drive past a concrete separation barrier between the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila and Israel on the border between the two countries on December 4, 2018 (Ali Dia/AFP)
IDF deploys Iron Domes ahead of Eurovision, Independence Day
Air missile defense batteries stationed throughout the country after rocket fired from Gaza lands off Israeli coast
Israeli soldiers walk near an Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells on August 9, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)
The Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries throughout the country on Tuesday, following a rocket attack from Gaza the previous night and ahead of what is expected to be a sensitive next few weeks.
Earlier in the day, the Israel Defense Forces accused the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad of firing the rocket late Monday night, which landed several kilometers off the coast.
The military expects the coming weeks to be particularly tense, as they will see the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the international Eurovision song competition in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days, and the first anniversary of the opening of the contentious US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Following Monday’s rocket launch, Israel scaled back the permitted Gaza fishing zone from 15 nautical miles to six until further notice. The fishing zone had previously been extended to 15 miles — a level that the coastal enclave has not seen in over a decade — as one of the first concessions by Jerusalem under an unofficial ceasefire agreement with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
Kaikkeen tottuu paitti kiveen kengässä.Näin jokin aika sitten unta että olin Israelissa ja katselin kuinka Iron Dome torjuu yöaikaan raketteja tai jotain. Uni loppui siihen kun läheltä laukaistiin jokin isompi torjuntaohjus (Arrow?) ja sitten katsottiin parhaimmaksi mennä siskoni talon kellariin/pommisuojaan.
En ole käynyt ikinä Israelissa, eikä siskoni eikä kukaan muukaan tuttuni siellä asu. Uni ei sinänsä mitenkään pelottavalta/painajaismaiselta tuntunut, kun ilotulitusta olisi katsellut.