(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Following are Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Public Affairs Ambassador Gideon Meir's opening statement from his press conference today (Thursday), 13 July 2006, with Brig,-Gen. Ido Nehushtan:
"Israel has suffered an unprovoked cross-border attack from Lebanese territory. The attack was carried out by the Hizbullah, which is a party to the Government of Lebanon. The attack was carried out against Israelis, soldiers and civilians, while on sovereign Israeli soil. In these circumstances, Israel has no alternative but to defend itself and its citizens.
For this reason, Israel is now reacting to an act of war by a neighboring sovereign state. Israel views Lebanon as responsible for the present situation, and it shall bear the consequences for this act.
However, Lebanon is not the only responsible party. Syria hosts in its capital, Damascus, the headquarters of a number of Palestinian Jihadist terrorist groups, including Hamas. They provide shelter and logistical support for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who has been living there for a number of years. From Damascus, Mashaal commands terrorists within the Palestinian territories who carry out ongoing attacks against Israel and its citizens, including the bombardment of southern Israel with Kassam missiles and the recent terrorist infiltration and kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Syria also provides support to the Hizbullah, including the transfer of arms, munitions and operatives through the Damascus airport and border crossings into Lebanon. The Hizbullah would not be able to operate in Lebanon without clear Syrian sponsorship.
Iran is the main benefactor of the Hizbullah. It provides funding, weapons and directives for this terrorist organization. For all practical purposes, Hizbullah is merely an arm of the Teheran Jihadist regime. Iran has also made considerable inroads of influence into Palestinian terrorist organization, including Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigade and Hamas’ Iz a-Din al-Kassam group. It provides their terror cells with funding, technical instruction and operational directives.
Hamas and Hizbullah are driven by an extremist Jihadist ideology which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel – as part of an international effort to wage ‘Holy War’ against the ‘infidel’.
Syria and Iran support these groups, not only because they support their ideology, but also because they provide Damascus and Teheran with a tool to strengthen the influence of their own regimes and to divert attention from other issues which have exposed them lately to international pressure.
Consequently, Israel views Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran as primary elements in the Axis of Terror and Hate threatening not only Israel but the entire world.
There is a widening consensus in the international arena that Jihadist terror is a global threat which must be confronted with determination and resolve. Israel has been in intensive contact with foreign governments and world organizations, in order to coordinate pressure on these regimes, ensuring they understand that the price that they’ll pay internationally for their support of terrorism will be unbearably high.
With regard to our expectations from Lebanon, it is the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon to fulfill its obligations as a sovereign state to extend its control over its own territory, as called for by Security Council resolutions 425 and 1559. Through our operations, Israel expects both to pressure the Beirut government to take action, and to facilitate this action by providing the international encouragement and the operational conditions favorable to the disarming of Hizbullah and the effective deployment of the Lebanese army southward to the Israel-Lebanon border. This is not only Israel's interest, but that of the Lebanese people and the region as a whole."