Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided last week that combatants who took part in the campaign that took place between the Lebanon War of 1982 and the time that Israel left Lebanon will receive a special decoration.
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Until now, campaign ribbons were only given to troops that participated in what Israel has defined as a 'war' – Independence Day, Sinai, Six Day, Attrition, Yom Kippur, First Lebanon and Second Lebanon wars. Campaign ribbons were never given for participation in battle or for combat during the Intifadas or the Gulf war.
The Lebanon campaign ribbon decoration will be bestowed on any combatant who served in the sector from June 1985, the official end the first Lebanon War, and through to May 2000, the eve of the withdrawal from Lebanon.
The decoration will most likely be given out at the next Independence Day celebrations or no later than Lag Ba'Omer – Reservists Day. The campaign ribbon will be given to hundreds of thousands of troops. It has not as yet been designed, and the colors of the ribbon have not yet been decided on.
Change of perspective
The aim is to give the decoration to active duty soldiers who fought in Lebanon for at least 30 sequential days and to reservists who served in the sector for over 30 days. To this day, the time spent in southern Lebanon is not considered a war but sources within the defense establishment said that combatants will nonetheless receive the campaign ribbon.
According to a senior officer who served in Lebanon, the move is "historic justice."
Avi Leon from Carmiel who completed his reserve service in a tank regiment, served in Lebanon between 1988 and 1991 during his active service. At the time, he didn't think of decorations, but after over two decades, his outlook has changed: "At the time we didn't think it was anything special, you had a mission and you needed to complete it, and we were the soldiers in the field.
"Nevertheless, I think it's time to give some kind of commendation to the soldiers who risked their lives and those, sadly, who lost their lives for the lengthy duration of the campaign."
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