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(photo credit: Channel 2)
"10 terrorist attacks were thwarted over the past three weeks," said Defense Minister Amir Peretz at Tuesday's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, adding that there was an increase in terror alerts in Judea and Samaria.
Peretz also noted that the financial aid given to Lebanese families by Hizbullah and Iran, between 13,000 and 15,000 dollars per family, strengthened Hizbullah's image in the eyes of the population.
Addressing questions regarding a final Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, the defense minister said that due to the fact that UNIFIL had not yet determined its specific rules of engagement, particularly those referring to opening fire, the IDF could not completely withdraw.
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MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) asked the defense minister whether the troops would be left in Lebanon as "hostages," to which Peretz replied that the IDF would pull out by next week.
Peretz added that until kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Golwasser were released and proper surveillance of the Lebanese-Syrian border put in place, Israel would continue to see UNSC resolution 1701 as "incomplete."
The defense minister faced an embarrassing moment during the meeting after giving a false reply to a question to which he seemed not to know the correct answer. When asked whether Israel was still enforcing a naval blockade in Lebanese waters, Peretz answered affirmatively.
After several MKs retorted that they "were aware of different information," his military secretary told him that no such blockade was intact, but rather the navy was only supervising the waters.
Peretz also came under fire for his policies on Israeli territory, as MKs Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) and Yuval Steinitz (Likud) attacked his willingness to give up the Golan Heights.
Eitam called on Peretz to drop the subject, dubbing the supposed Golan Heights relinquishment "political stupidity."
"This is a surrender to Syrian threats, and it only frustrates the United States," said Eitam.
Peretz also acknowledged Syrian President Bashar Assad's remarks of last week, saying that no conditions had been set for negotiations with Syria.
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