Jerusalem, 7 April 2002

Cabinet Communique
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), April 7, 2002:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon conveyed his congratulations and appreciation to the soldiers of the IDF, the Israel Police, the Border Police, the Mossad, the Israel Security Agency, Magen David Adom, and all the volunteers who are today standing – and are ready to stand – in the face of the dangers before the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Sharon said the campaign now being waged is a difficult one, but one that it has recorded many accomplishments. The Prime Minister remarked that this is a very serious campaign. Israel is adhering to a policy of avoiding attacks on civilians, thus prolonging the actions and making them more difficult.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that this is a fateful fight for our homeland in which Israel has suffered many casualties. The Prime Minister conveyed both his and the government’s participation in the sorrow of the bereaved families, and his best wishes for a recovery to the wounded. The Prime Minister reiterated that we all stand together in this campaign which is decisive for the continued existence of a secure Israel, which is a condition for attaining peace – the vision and desire of us all.

2. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer reviewed the IDF actions and said that the security forces are operating simultaneously in most of the main cities in Judea and Samaria, which have become hothouses for terror. The IDF is also operating in the rural areas to which several wanted fugitives have fled.

During the weekend, the IDF almost completed its takeover of Jenin and Nablus, despite having encountered very harsh resistance by armed men who barricaded themselves, engaging in the preparation of hundreds of bombs, car-bombs and suicide-attackers.

The most important achievements of the IDF’s actions to date are the arrest of or attacks on dozens of wanted, very senior terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Tanzim and the PFLP; striking an especially severe blow at the leaders of Hamas’ military wing in Judea and Samaria; and the discovery of several laboratories for preparing bombs and varied war materiel. The IDF has also found considerable quantities of important documents, including those which attest to the active sponsorship of terror by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer noted that the IDF needs time in order to complete this action and to eradicate as much of the terrorist infrastructure as possible.

3. Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz briefed the Cabinet on the developments in the military campaign to date. The Cabinet held a discussion based on the briefing, and authorized the following statement:

"The Government of Israel shares the grief of the bereaved families of IDF fallen who were killed in the course of the battles and the victims of the murderous terror attacks, and wishes a speedy recovery to all the wounded. The Government congratulates the IDF, its soldiers and commanders in the regular service and in the reserves, for their fighting spirit, courage, perseverance, and their accomplishments in Operation Defensive Shield.

Congratulations are conveyed to the ISA, Mossad and Israel Police as well for their dedicated work to assure the security of the citizens of Israel.

Israel, like any country in the world, has the right to defend itself against the cruel terror perpetrated against it from centers of terror located only several kilometers from its population centers.

Israel is exercising this right in an unparalleled manner as regards the moral code and the care being taken to avoid inflicting damage on the civilian population.

The campaign against terror is necessary for the protection of Israeli citizens, and essential in order to pave the way to peace.

The world must support Israel in this difficult and moral struggle against cruel terror, while exercising the right to defend itself."

4. The Cabinet decided to amend the National Insurance Law so as to deny the payment of benefits to the heirs or next-of-kin of those who are killed or disabled while carrying out terror attacks.