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Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Statement on the Conclusion of Operation Accountability

(July 31, 1993)

Operation Accountability came to an end in the evening of 31 July, 1993. American involvement together with Syrian pressure on Hizballah brought about an informal understanding in which Hizballah would cease attacking Israeli settlements in the north and in general would be restrained. The Lebanese government was also a party to this unofficial understanding. Israel felt that the operation achieved its stated goals. In the following statement, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman's explained the reasons for the operation and what was achieved. He paid special tribute to Secretary of State Christopher who played a central role in the diplomacy ending the operation, and who was due in Israel on 3 August. Text:

On July 31, 1993 at 18:00 local time, Israel completed its counter-terrorist operation in Lebanon. In diplomatic efforts made alongside the IDF operations, understandings were reached putting an end to Hizballah rocket fire on Israeli towns and civilians. In concluding the operation, Israel stresses the following points:

1. The twofold goal of the operation - peace and quiet

The purpose of Operation Accountability was twofold: Firstly to achieve an end to indiscriminate Hizballah rocketing of northern Israeli towns, and secondly, to eliminate the ability of Hizballah, and other rejectionist groups, to veto the peace process.

With the help of U.S. Secretary of State Christopher, understandings were reached between Israel, Lebanon and Syria, and the first goal has already been achieved: Hizballah has been restrained and quiet has been restored to Israel's northern border. Now the region must concentrate on the next goal: Building upon this achievement in order to press forward with the peace-making.

2. The operation was necessary, gradual, and proportional

Before beginning the operation, Israel showed utmost restraint and tried every possible avenue to bring about an end to the Hizballah escalation of terrorist attacks. The military action was a last resort. The use of force was proportional, and designed to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible.

In the beginning of the operation Israel acted only against isolated terrorist targets outside civilian areas. Only when Hizballah escalated with rocket fire against Israeli towns did the IDF warn civilians that terrorist facilities intentionally located within villages would also be targeted. Ample time was given for civilians to leave the area, and Hizballah's desire to exploit these civilians as shields was prevented.

3. The movement of civilians was unfortunate, yet temporary

Israel's operation was directed against Hizballah, not against civilians. It is unfortunate that so many had to leave their homes. However the blame for their suffering belongs with Hizballah, which had deployed itself within towns and villages and even used them as staging areas for attacks and launching sites for artillery rockets. With the restoration of calm, Israel encourages these villagers to return to their homes, and to do everything within their power to prevent Hizballah from re-deploying in their midst. It should be recalled that at the same time, 150,000 Israelis were also forced from their homes or driven into bomb shelters by the Hizballah bombardment of Israel's northern towns.

4. Moving forward, Christopher's upcoming trip to the region

The rejectionist Hizballah has been weakened, and understandings have been reached between Israel, Lebanon, and Syria limiting Hizballah's ability to veto the peace process. In the light of this joint achievement, U.S. Secretary of State Christopher's visit to the Middle East this week now holds great potential for the peace process.

In restraining Hizballah, an important forward movement has been made. Israel hopes that all the parties who worked to achieve this new arrangement in Lebanon, as well as the Palestinians, will be able to take advantage of this step forward, in order to build the peace that is so necessary for our region.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs