Peretz: Aim is to see off Hizbullah [pg. 5]

Lebanese forces must deploy and prevent Hizbullah from accessing Israel's northern border, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told an emergency meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Thursday. "This operation is intended to prevent unequivocally Hizbullah's access to the northern border. Lebanese forces are the ones who need to sit there and we expect them to deploy on Israel's border. We will not allow Hizbullah to encroach on our border," Peretz said. "Hizbullah has been given a free rein for years thanks to Lebanese hesitation and direction from Syria and Iran." The emergency meeting was called by committee chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), who is abroad. Members issued a statement holding Lebanon responsible for the kidnapping of two soldiers and deaths of eight Wednesday. Peretz said, "Lebanon is paying the price for its small-mindedness, allowing Hizbullah to behave as if it is the one in charge of the country." Discussing the possibility of Hizbullah attacks penetrating deeper into Israel, Peretz urged civilians to show "stamina." "I would like to take this opportunity to send my support for IDF forces on the northern border and also in Gaza," said Peretz, at the close of the meeting. "I would like to extend my condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and the Israeli woman killed in Nahariya, and to send my support to the families of the kidnapped. I would like to say to the Shalit family: we have no intention of forgetting Gilad and we will keep working to secure his release."