TEL AVIV (Jul. 14)
Chief of Staff Moshe Levy confirmed today that the army is planning to redeploy its forces in Lebanon along a new defense line bounded by the Awali river, just north of Sidon. He did not say when the redeployment would begin but noted that it was a government decision which meant that the army would move soon.
Appearing on a television interview, Levy stressed that the redeployment was “in accordance with the Israel-Lebanon agreement” signed last May 17. He said the plans have already been discussed with Lebanese officials and with the U.S. Administration in Washington. He made it clear that the move was not a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, although Israel’s ultimate goal is to return to the international boundary and bring all of its troops home.
The Chief of Staff said the areas evacuated by Israeli forces would be handed over to the Lebanese army and the multinational force. But he cautioned that he could not guarantee that Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon would not continue to attack Israeli soldiers and cause casualties.
Levy said he hoped the new defense lines would allow a reduction in the number of reserve soldiers called to duty but special infantry, paratroops and service units will continue to be called up at an accelerated rate.