A Syrian rebel group announced today that they had detained twenty-one United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights in order to protect them from shelling by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s army. Yesterday, armed fighters from the Martyrs of Yarmouk opposition group said on their Facebook page that they had abducted the U.N. workers and would not release them unless government forces withdrew from the area.
The incident highlights the latest way that the Syrian conflict is frothing at Israel’s northern border. The Israeli government insisted that the U.N. could handle the situation and refrained from getting involved, though there is worry that the kidnapping might convince countries who participate in the U.N. force to withdraw their troops, thus creating a greater void in the Golan for Islamic extremists to gain power.
Natalie Schachar is an editorial intern at Tablet. A recent graduate of Barnard College, she has written for the Times of Israel, The Atlantic, The Argentina Independent and Lilith Magazine.