The cabinet approved on Monday an initiative to grant a campaign ribbon for IDF and South Lebanon Army soldiers who participated in an almost two-decade-long war in Lebanon.
The Lebanon war started in September 1982 and ended with the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000.
The granting of the ribbon is the outcome of a long struggle of former soldiers for recognition in the war, and in its costs for the Israeli public.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who was the last IDF Lebanon Liaison Unit commander, and was pushing to approve this initiative said: “As the person who was the last soldier to leave Lebanon, if feel a great honor today to grant this recognition to thousands of combat soldiers, and brothers in arms — those who came home, and those who didn’t.
“Granting this ribbon is also a symbolic message to the present IDF combat soldiers; we show them that we honor them — [we honor their] devotion, the risk they’re taking, and their activities to protect the security of the country.
“I wish to thank the IDF Chief of Staff [Aviv] Kochavi and the IDF Manpower Directorate who were promoting this issue. [I also wish to thank] Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Shaul Mofaz and the rest of the committee members that examined granting the medal,” he said.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi commended the decision to grant the ribbon.
“The cabinet’s decision to accept our recommendation to grant the campaign ribbon is a highly important closure for us, [as we stand] in front thousands of soldiers who relentlessly acted and put their lives in danger in order to protect communities in the North,” Kochavi said.
“Granting the ribbon also to our brothers in arms, the combat warriors of the South Lebanon Army is an important manifestation of our courageous alliance that was a major component in fulfilling our mission in the [South Lebanon] Security Belt for 20 years.
“Our hearts today are with the bereaved families who lost their loved ones during the combat years in the Security Belt,” he added.