Jerusalem, 14 April 1996

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)

At its weekly meeting today (Sunday), 04.14.96, the Cabinet sitting as the Ministerial Committee for National Security Affairs heard a report from the Chief-of-Staff and senior IDF officers on IDF activities in Lebanon and on the situation in the northern part of the country.

The Prime Minister and Defense Minister issued the following announcement:

A. The government expresses its deep appreciation to the IDF for its operations which are being carried out in an exact, orderly, and responsible fashion. The government expresses special appreciation to the IAF and the ground forces which are taking part in this around-the-clock mission.

The Prime Minister expressed his special appreciation to the Chief-of- Staff, the IAF Commander, OC Northern Command, and other IDF officers who are commanding the operation.

B. The government expresses its appreciation to the residents of the confrontation line in the north, especially those of Kiryat Shemona, for their endurance. The government sends its wishes for the speedy recovery of those who have been injured.

C. Israel has no intention of returning to Lebanon.

D. The policy is to not injure civilians. If civilians were injured, this stemmed from the fact that they traveled in a vehicle in which there was a terrorist or terrorists, or they were found in their vicinity. For our part, we will endeavor to prevent losses on our side, as well as injury to Lebanese citizens.

E. We have no intention of entering into battles with either the Syrian or the Lebanese armies.

F. Hizbullah has breached all previous understandings, and has deliberately created an escalation; the United States which achieved the understandings has established that the understandings which were achieved through its mediation, have not been honored by Hizbullah.

G. Israel will not allow firing from within villages, and will not permit Hizbullah to conceal itself among the civilian population, and from there, launch Katyushas at communities in the north.

H. Hizbullah terrorists and facilities in Lebanon, including those in Beirut, will not enjoy immunity.

I. If Israeli civilian facilities are hit, there will be no immunity from strikes on parallel Lebanese facilities.

J. Israel is not limited by time, and has the patience, fortitude, and the ability to continue carrying out the required actions until Hizbullah attacks cease.

K. If the Hizbullah ceases its attacks, we will cease ours.

L. We did not conquer the security zone. The Lebanese authorities have essentially left it unclaimed, and turned it into a terrorist operating theater.

M. We will not accept the freedom which the Government of Lebanon grants to the terrorist headquarters to operate on its territory, without interference.

N. The government greatly appreciates the fact that the nation is united in support of its policy and the operations of the Israel Defense Forces. A responsible government must provide protection to the communities of the north, and this it is doing.

O. The government has appointed an ad hoc committee of ministers headed by the the Finance Minister to provide assistance and answers to the problems of the communities along the confrontation line in the north.

P. The Prime Minister recommends that Kiryat Shemona be granted a special status.