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Israel to recognise 18-year south Lebanon occupation as an official campaign

Israeli military vehicles during the operation to 'expose and thwart' cross-border tunnels allegedly dug by Hezbollah along border with Lebanon on 5 December 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli military vehicles during an operation along the border with Lebanon on 5 December 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israel's armed forces will recognise its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon as an official military campaign, the Times of Israel reported.

The occupation, which will be known as "The Security Zone in Lebanon Campaign", will be considered the same as Israel's other wars and multi-year military campaigns.

The decision was made by Israeli forces' Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi based on a recommendation from a committee headed by Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz, who commanded the military during part of the occupation.

The decision has now passed to Defence Minister Benny Gantz for approval. Gantz has already indicated that he will support Kohavi's decision and praised the military chief of staff for accepting the committee's recommendation.

The Israeli defence minister was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying: "There is no doubt that the operational service in Lebanon deserves historic recognition."

The decision will then require final approval from the government's Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols, before the occupation is officially recognised.

READ: Hezbollah raises alert level amid Israel manoeuvres

If passed, the occupation of southern Lebanon will become the ninth military campaign recognised by Israel.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the 1967-1970 War of Attrition, the 1973 Ramadan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and the 2014 Israel-Gaza War, are already recognised by the Israeli military.

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon started in 1985, when the so-called Jewish state's forces withdrew from the Lebanese cities of Sidon and Tyre that they had invaded in 1982.

By May 1985, Israeli forces had withdrawn from most of southern Lebanon, only maintaining control of a "security zone" just north of the border, in Lebanese territory.

In 1989, Lebanese warring factions agreed to the Taif Accord, which ended the civil war and conditioned the complete withdrawal of both Israeli and Syrian troops in their territory.

However, Israeli forces still retained control of the "security zone" in southern Lebanon. Syrian troops also remained in the east of the country.

Eventually, in May 2000, newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced the unilateral withdrawal of troops from the occupied territory.

The completeness of the withdrawal, however, has been disputed as both the Lebanese government and Hezbollah claim Israel still holds a part of their territory, the Shebaa Farms.

READ: US, UN hopes Israel-Lebanon talks reach solution to maritime borders crisis

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