Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz Flash 90

The Knesset Plenum approved on first reading the Bill of the Military Persons of Southern Lebanon and Their Families (Amendment), 5721-2021.

Sixteen Knesset Members supported the proposal, which passed without opposition, and will be forwarded to the Finance Committee for preparation for second and third reading.

With the withdrawal of IDF forces from southern Lebanon, some SLA members entered Israel, and some chose to settle in Israel. The Law of Southern Lebanese Military Personnel and Their Families 2004 regulated the status of SLA members who entered Israel, granted them and their family members the right to Israeli citizenship, applied the provisions of the Rehabilitation Laws as if they were IDF soldiers, established their right to recognition grants and housing assistance additionally granted to them by virtue of several decisions made by the government.

Since the Deputy Prime Minister and the Defense Minister intend to award a medal under the IDF Decoration Law to IDF soldiers who took part in the campaign in the security zone in southern Lebanon, it is proposed to give the defense minister the authority to award the medal to South Lebanese soldiers who fought alongside IDF soldiers.

The explanatory memorandum reads: "From the beginning of the Lebanon Civil War in the 1970s until the withdrawal of Israel in May 2000 to the international border with Lebanon, military and civilian relations were established, developed, and established between the State of Israel and the IDF and Lebanese forces originating in the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon. . First under the command of Major Saad Haddad and then under the command of General Antoine Lahad. These forces, known as the South Lebanese Army - SLA, fought side by side with IDF soldiers during the campaign in the security zone in southern Lebanon."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz presented the bill and said: "When I took over as defense minister I met with groups of soldiers in the past and in the reserve, with the closure of the gate to Lebanon, the gate remained open for them, they joined their comrades and decided to open the wound. We formed a committee headed by the former defense minister Shaul Mofaz and we decided to give a signal to everyone who fought in Lebanon, as well as to our brothers who fought with us shoulder to shoulder.

"We are facing Hezbollah that receives weapons from Iran, we are constantly ready to fight in the north but also carry the battle heritage we've carried for many years; in such a situation that Hezbollah fortifies itself behind civilians we will not allow, we will not allow it to pose a danger to the State of Israel," he added.

He said, "We have lost many brothers in military activity, their sons also in various accidents, including the Tzur disaster and the helicopter disaster. We will make sure that bereaved families receive the citation on behalf of their families. Also today, IDF soldiers encountering a terrorist know how to do their job. We have proper procedures and commanders. We are not indifferent to accidents, there is always room to learn and improve. I appeal to IDF soldiers who always have the backing to respond to any threat to them according to the procedures. I hear about legislative initiatives to change the procedures for opening fire, I call for putting the IDF above any political issue. The IDF sets the orders as an orderly procedure and not as a political whim.

"It is proposed in this law to give the Minister of Defense the authority to grant the security citation also to SLA soldiers who fought alongside IDF forces in Lebanon. We will never turn our backs on our partners, our sons have a blood covenant. The haste ​​is from the desire to grant the citation on the anniversary of the departure from Lebanon." Gantz concluded.