Jerusalem, 7 July 1997

DEFENSE MINISTER SPEAKS ON CURRENT SITUATION IN LEBANON

(Communicated by Defense Ministry Media Coordinator)

Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai spoke yesterday evening, Sunday, 6.7.97, on the situation in southern Lebanon to an assembly of national union leaders gathered in Bat-Yam.

Minister Mordechai told them, "we are fighting a continuous and harsh war in Lebanon, and this evening we lost Major Nadav Milo, as he stood at the head of his troops. I am full of appreciation for the commanders and soldiers who are carrying out vital, hard, and demanding operations in Lebanon against the Iranian-supported terrorist organization, Hizbullah."

He added, "I am searching for, and will continue to search for, a way to bring about progress, even if partially, in the situation in Lebanon. I will spare no effort in this, and believe me, I have no illusions, and I don’t care if people criticize me on this, I have a deep responsibility to the soldiers in Lebanon and to their necessary operations, which impose upon me the responsibility, as Defense Minister, to search for any possible solution."

"My heart is with the mothers who deal with IDF operations in Lebanon, and I say to them in all sincerity that my concern for the well being of our young men is no less than that of the mothers and fathers, yet there is no serious member of the security establishment who would agree to a leave Lebanon without an agreement."

"I am happy that for some time now the residents of the north have been living regular lives people are working, children are safely attending school, and tourism is flourishing. We have no interest in Lebanon apart from the defense of our citizens. Today, and everyday, we say, to all the nations of the world: Help the people and government of Lebanon to detach themselves from the Syrian bear-hug and to take responsibility for events in Lebanon."