Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SLA Soldiers in Israel: Ehud Barak Betrayed Us!

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Soldiers of the now-defunct South Lebanon Army (SLA) demonstrated at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Sunday against what they feel is discrimination among their ranks by Defense Ministry officials. The protesters said that the higher ranking officers among the former SLA soldiers received what the IDF promised they would receive when they fled into Israel after the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon in 2000, but that the lower ranking soldiers have not received their due. "We are the first group all over the world that fought for the Jewish people. Are the Jewish people happy to see what Israel has done with her allies?" said Pierre Diyov, one of the protesters.

As for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who as the Prime Minister in 2000 ordered the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, the SLA protesters said they can not understand how Israelis can trust him after he was responsible for broken promises to the SLA.

"How can he protect the people of Israel when he can't even protect people who served with him?" asked one of the protesters, Josh, who had served 17 years in the SLA. "As far as I am concerned, Ehud Barak is a traitor, because when he withdrew the IDF from Lebanon he said that the children of the SLA members are children of the State of Israel, and today those children don't even have a house."

The former SLA soldiers threatened to hold demonstrations outside the Defense Ministry every week in the event that Barak is elected to the prime ministership. They'll return regularly "until every family will get a house like he gave Hizbullah for free," say the Lebanese refugees.

Most of the former SLA members who stayed in Israel live in the north of the country.

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