Freed UN peacekeepers arrive in Israel
Updated: 2013-03-12 11:02
Jordanian Chiefs-of-Staff Mashal Al Zaben (R) welcomes Filipino UN peacekeepers, part of a group of 21 peacekeepers held by rebels for three days in southern Syria, at the headquarters of the General Command of the Jordanian Army in Amman, in this March 9, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
JERUSALEM - The group of United Nations peacekeepers, who were taken hostage by Syrian rebels last week, reached Israel Monday after being released at the weekend, local media reported.
After days of intense negotiations between the United Nations and the Syrian rebels, the UN soldiers were finally freed and taken to Jordan on Saturday, where they were transferred to Israel, the Maariv daily reported on its website.
The soldiers, all of them Filipino nationals, are well and healthy and will return to normal routine on their UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) base on the Golan Heights.
Israel hopes that the UNDOF will not decide to close the base, which acts as a buffer zone between Israel and Syria, said the report.
Given the volatile situation along the border, with the conflict inside Syria getting closer to Israel, the United Nations may be considering to shut down the base that has been operating since 1974, one year after the Six-Day war, to implement a ceasefire between the two countries.
Israel has warned in recent months that the conflict is getting closer and more violent near its current northern border, with stray missiles landing on its soil from time to time, something Israel feels is not always fortuitous.
Officials have also said that many rebels who fight near the border belong to the Global Jihad and al-Qaida and are trying to drag Israel into Syria's civil war.