Head of UN Peacekeeping Force in Golan Heights Dies Unexpectedly in Israel

Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri passed away Friday at the age of 62. The Ghanian national has served as the head of UNDOF since October 2017

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Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri with Israeli UN Envoy Danny Danon.
Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri with Israeli UN Envoy Danny Danon.Credit: United Nations

The head of UNDOF, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, in the Golan Heights, Maj. Gen. Francis Vib-Sanziri, died suddenly on Friday at the age of 62.

Israeli envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, eulogized the general saying, "his experience and leadership led UNDOF through a complicated and challenging period that included the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and Hezbollah actions that challenged the force in their work."

Danon sent a letter of condolence to Vib-Sanziri's family in the name of the state of Israel.

Vib-Sanziri is originally from Ghana and was appointed to lead UNDOF in October 2017. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

UNDOF was first deployed in 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria. It is now made up of 1,041 troops from Austria, the Philippines, India. Croatia, Japan and Canada. Its mandate has been renewed every six months since 1974.

Tensions rose recently in the UNDOF-controlled area on May 15 and June 5 when Palestinians tried to breach the ceasefire line to protest against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) post in the area.

In March, U.S. President Donald Trump met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday and signed a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory - a move that has garnered widespread criticism from the international community.