On Monday the cabinet approved the awarding of a campaign medal to troops who served in the south Lebanese security zone from 1985 until the withdrawal in May 2000, following the first Lebanon War (1982-85). The medal will also be awarded to South Lebanon Army soldiers from those years.
In November, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi adopted the recommendation of a committee headed by former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that the post-withdrawal period of fighting in the security zone be recognized as a military campaign.
The medal will be awarded to combat soldiers and combat support troops who served in the security zone. Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the decision and wrote on Twitter: “As someone who was the last soldier to leave there – It is a great privilege to recognize the contribution of thousands of fighters and brothers in arms. We shall do our utmost to distribute the medal soon. They deserve ti.”
Kochavi also expressed support for the decision, saying it represents “an important closing of a circle in our moral duty to the thousands of fighters who acted with total dedication for many years to defend the northern communities.”
Last May marked the 20th anniversary of the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon, after 18 years there. Since then, the way the withdrawal was conducted and its influence on the situation on the northern border have been a matter of debate. Since 2011, members of a forum called Security Zone – The War Without a Name have been fighting for state recognition of their service. Within a short time, the forum came to include thousands of IDF veterans, and with the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal, the calls for recognition grew. Support for the move was also received from defense ministers and current and former senior officers who shared stories on social media from the time they served as combat soldiers and commanders in the security zone.