Middle East

Israeli Defense Forces Brace for More Battles

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Israel is dropping leaflets warning civilians to leave the southern areas of Lebanon as its military operation against Hezbollah militants enters its tenth day. Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Captain Ishai David talks with Noah Adams about the Israeli military's view of its current conflict with the Shiite militant group.


Joining us now from Tel Aviv is Captain Ishai David of the Israeli Defense Forces. Welcome Captain David.

Captain ISHAI DAVID (Israeli Defense Forces): Thank you for having me on your show.

ADAMS: Ivan Watson, our reporter in Tyre, just described quite a gruesome scene - some 80 bodies in a mass burial. And he was saying that people can't move bodies around the country - southern Lebanon. The roads are clogged; things are very difficult. How does Israel react to a scene like that that will surely be on television and the newspapers and radio?

Capt. DAVID: I think that the way - the right way to react, and the way Israel reacts and the way that the Israel Defense Forces react to this kind of situation is in the same way that any other peace-loving nation would react to an unfortunate situation in which innocent civilians have fallen victim to the careless treatment and approach by terrorists - and namely in this situation, Hezbollah terrorists - who exploit civilian residents and civilian houses and infrastructure to plan their operations and to carry them out against the northern part of Israel.

I understand that there are a lot of casualties on the Lebanese side, but we do everything we can to make sure that we target only the ones responsible for the relentless terror attacks in Israel and the thousands of Katyusha rockets and missiles that are being fired at us every single day.

Unfortunately, the terrorists are hiding within civilian populations and that is the price of this war.

ADAMS: Now Captain David, as you well know, Israel has told the civilians of a 20-mile area in southern Lebanon to leave their houses. They're out on the road, and Ivan Watson was reporting that he's heard that many of these people were killed actually on these roads trying to obey Israel's dictum here.

Capt. DAVID: I don't have that high a degree of information and accuracy, but what I can tell you that the reason why we asked these people to leave is because we wanted to minimize the number of casualties hurt in our bombing campaign of terrorist infrastructure.

And is an unfortunate situation where civilians are being killed leaving their houses, but we do everything we can to make sure that we keep that number to as low a number as possible. Let's not forget the exodus of Israeli citizens leaving the Kiryat Shmonah, the Metula and the entire Galilee area in attempt to the thousands of Katyusha rockets that are hitting us every single minute, every single day.

ADAMS: But couldn't there be, theoretically, a stand-down, a 48-hour stand-down, to allow people to follow the Israeli order and the civilians to get out of the area?

Capt. DAVID: Any stand-down, any sort of ceasefire is a decision that is taken by the political echelon. We will carry out those orders by our government once we get them, if we get them.

ADAMS: What is the goal, and is it changing, of Israel in southern Lebanon?

Capt. DAVID: The goal of our operation is to push the Hezbollah terrorist organization up and to prevent it from attacking the Israeli north. The second objective is to force the Lebanese government to finally take control of all of Lebanon, including southern Lebanon, and to root out the terrorist infrastructure and the terrorists firing missiles and killing soldiers along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

And a third objective, first and foremost, is obviously to release the soldiers that were abducted 10 days ago. Nobody wants this war. We all wish we could be sitting around the dinner table talking about other things. The top military experts and security experts in our country are wracking their brains in trying to find out the best way to root out the terrorists from southern Lebanon, that are a constant threat on the Israeli citizens along that border. We have actually moved ahead. We have made progress. There is a long battle to fight, but we will prevail.

ADAMS: Captain Ishai David of the Israeli Defense Forces talking with us from Tel Aviv.

Thank you, Captain David.

CAPT. David: Thank you, sir.

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