Jerusalem, 8 April 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer tours Samaria, comments on situation on northern border and speaks to US Secy. of Defense Rumsfeld
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer this morning (Monday), April 8, 2002, toured the Samaria district accompanied by Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Eitan and OC Judea and Samaria Brig.-Gen. Gershon Yitzhak.

During the tour, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer held a situational assessment with the reserve and regular service commanders in the Nablus area and viewed IDF activity in the city from Elon Moreh ridge area.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer praised the action of the IDF forces, especially the reservists’ motivation and professionalism, and said that "There is a real sense of war for our homes."

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that while the operation will continue until we are able to assure maximum damage to the infrastructure of terror, a solution can only be achieved around the political negotiating table. "We must see to it that acts like the Passover massacre do not recur and that we are not obliged to return after we exit the Palestinian cities," he said.

Regarding the situation in the north, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said, "The escalation manufactured by Hizbullah is endangering the stability of the border. Israel will not sit idly by if this situation continues. We are acting with restraint, but the other side is interpreting this as weakness and is shooting into our territory."

In this context, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer spoke today (Monday), April 8, 2002, with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and requested that he act urgently to transfer a sharp message to the Syrian leadership so that Damascus will act to prevent a deterioration.