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June 26, 2022 5:04 pm

‘Correcting Injustice’: Israel Approves Housing Aid for South Lebanon Army Veterans

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

South Lebanon Army forces in May, 2000. Photo: אלפי בן יעקב / IDF Spokesperson’s Unit / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a proposal to grant financial assistance towards housing for former South Lebanon Army (SLA) veterans who fought alongside IDF soldiers in southern Lebanon against the Hezbollah terror group.

“Today we corrected a terrible injustice to SLA fighters,” stated Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “SLA soldiers fought shoulder-to-shoulder alongside IDF soldiers during our 18 years of operations in southern Lebanon.”

The SLA was a Christian Lebanese militia that emerged out of the Lebanese civil war and became Israel’s key ally during the fighting in the country. With the withdrawal of IDF forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, which led to the collapse of the SLA, thousands of its members were forced to leave their homes and flee the country out of fear of persecution by the Hezbollah terror organization, with many arriving in Israel.

“They came here homeless, jobless — destitute. Unfortunately, many of them were abandoned by the Israeli government,” Bennett lamented.

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As part of the proposal, the IDF said, eligible SLA veterans will receive a one-time housing grant of about $161,200, to be allocated between 2022 and 2026 to provide “proper conditions for a decent and respectful life for those who helped the State of Israel.”

“The grant constitutes a solution for the housing shortage of around 400 families that were not properly accommodated upon their arrival in Israel,” the IDF elaborated.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who proposed the bill together with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, called the approval a move to deliver “historical justice.”

“It is not only our moral duty, but also a great right for me to close the circle with those who were displaced from their homeland after fighting alongside us, and became an integral part of us,” Gantz said.

The housing assistance can be claimed by those who served in the South Lebanon Army, or to the spouse of a deceased SLA veteran, provided that they live in Israel. The proposal is part of an initiative started by the Israeli government about four years ago to address “gaps” in the absorption of SLA veterans, the IDF said.

“We hold great appreciation for our brothers in arms, the soldiers of the South Lebanon Army, who fought beside us for many years, while putting their lives at risk,” stated IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. “We value their contribution to the combat achievements in Southern Lebanon, and over the years we have not forgotten our allies and our moral duty to help them live a worthy and respectful life.”

“We have a long way to go, but we view this step as an important and significant achievement,” Kochavi emphasized.

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