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Peretz. 'Occupation not on the agenda' Photo: Ahiya Raved
Peretz. 'Occupation not on the agenda' Photo: Ahiya Raved
 
Family in Nahariya shelter Photo: Niv Calderon
Family in Nahariya shelter Photo: Niv Calderon
 
 

Peretz: Residents' support empowers IDF

Defense minister tours Nahariya on Monday morning, clarifies that IDF has no intention of escalating the battle in Lebanon. 'No doubt message from residents is loud and clear – we started operation and must not stop it,' he says

Miri Chason
Published: 07.17.06, 14:30 / Israel News

Defense Minister Amir Peretz toured on Monday communities in the northern region that were hit by Katyusha rockets. During his visit to Nahariya, Peretz said he arrived there in order to "closely examine the determination and patience the residents display. The city follows all the instructions and citizens understand the situation we are in."

 

Following six days of fighting in which the IDF focused mainly on air strikes, Peretz was facing the next phase but emphasized that in contrast to the events 24 years ago, Israel had no intention of going deep into Lebanon.

 

"We have no intention of occupying Lebanon or sink into the Lebanese swamp," said Peretz. "We have no intention of taking measures that would cause further eruption. But we do stand guard and intend on completing the operation. We have no intention of allowing anyone to hold us back before we create a security zone. We will agree only on forces from the Lebanese government to patrol the Israeli-Lebanese border."

 

Defense minister in Nahariya (Video: Yaron Brenner)

On Sunday Hizbullah fired for the first time onto communities in Jezreel Valley, among them Afula and Nazareth IIlit. The Hizbullah also threatened to fire, and did fire, missiles on Haifa.

 

Peretz responded: "The issue of missiles' range is not strategic but technological. We are dealing with fact that terror organizations purchase long-range missiles. The state of Israel is not going to buckle under any terror threat."

 

'Only a matter of time'

 

As in his visit to Haifa on Sunday after the deadly missile attack, Peretz praised the residents' steadfastness facing the rockets attacks in the north.

 

"No doubt the message from residents is loud and clear – we entered the operation and it must not stop unless reality changes. The reality where the Home Front is no longer threatened, a reality where we are not subjected to the terror organizations' wish to put us in shelters and close workplaces. I must say that the residents' support empowers the IDF," he said.

 

"If there is period that the IDF feels that it is fighting for home – we are in the midst of this period," he added.

 

Peretz reiterated the message that the biggest surprise of this conflict was the strength of the Israeli home front.

 

"If the terror organizations believed the home front is weak, they discovered a strategic surprise. It's only a matter of time until we defeat the terror organizations," he said.

 

Following his visit to Nahariya and a short meeting with residents in one of the public shelters, Peretz visited the family of the abducted soldier Udi Goldwasser.

 

"We came to support the family and inform them personally of the information we have. We will not let go for one minute and use all the resources we have available," said Pertez.

 

Peretz concluded his visit to Nahariya by attending a Brit ceremony for the grandson of Nahariya's chief rabbi.

 

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