You are here

S 3 United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II)

On 6 October 1973, war broke out again in the Middle East when simultaneous surprise attacks were launched against Israel by Egyptian troops crossing the Suez Canal and Syrian troops attacking in the Golan Heights. The Egyptians advanced east of the canal. The Israelis counterattacked and, when a cease-fire came into force, both the Israelis and Egyptians had forces on either side of the canal.

The first United Nations Emergency Force had served as a buffer between Egyptian and Israeli forces from November 1956 until withdrawn at the request of Egypt prior to the June 1967 war. Australia did not contribute troops to that force. The United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II) was formed to supervise the cease-fire following the October 1973 war. Following agreements between Egypt and Israel on 18 January 1974 and 4 September 1975, UNEF II was given the responsibility of supervising the redeployment of forces and manning and controlling the buffer zones east of Suez and in the Sinai Peninsula that were established by those agreements.

Australian contribution to UNEF II commenced in July 1976 when four helicopters and 46 air crew and support personnel joined the force. The termination of UNEF II occurred as a direct result of the peace treaty concluded in March 1979 between Egypt and Israel under the auspices of the United States. That treaty provided that, upon completion of phased Israeli withdrawal over three years, security arrangements on both sides of the Israeli-Egyptian border would be made with the assistance of United Nations forces and observers. The intention of the parties was to have UNEF II perform these duties but strong opposition to the treaty from the PLO and many Arab states and opposition from the Security Council caused the mandate to lapse on 24 July 1979. UNEF II forces were quickly repatriated although the Australian helicopter unit remained in the area until October in order to assist in the winding up of the Force. UNEF II is listed in Schedule 3 VEA as commencing on 1 July 1976.