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Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres Defends Israel’s Actions

Prime Minster Ehud Olmert declared Tuesday that Israel was "winning" the battle against Hezbollah and that there was progress toward a conditional cease-fire. Vice Premier Shimon Peres gives the official Israeli position on the fighting and diplomacy.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Deputy Prime Minister Peres, welcome.

  • SHIMON PERES, Israeli Vice Premier:

    Thank you.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Thanks for being with us. Israel today intensified its ground offensive in Lebanon. Why? What is your objective there?

  • SHIMON PERES:

    We go from a place to a place where there is a concentration of missile launchers and trying to clean it. I mean, we bomb when there are headquarters of the Hezbollah in the same building, and as you notice nobody was killed because they were empty. Then we go from place to place where they use the villagers as human shield and are trying to cancel the missiles so their basis of the missiles.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    So how far will Israel go into Lebanese territory, and how long will Israel stay?

  • SHIMON PERES:

    It doesn't matter how long we shall go, because we shall not stay there anyway. We go just on caution for a specific mission, and then our people, our soldiers are coming back home.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    But is Israel determined to stay until there is a cease-fire, until there's an international force, or might Israel withdraw sooner?

  • SHIMON PERES:

    We don't intend to stay there for any length of time at all. As I have said, we do just incursions when we have specific information about the concentration of missiles or launchers.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    So I just want to be clear here. So are you suggesting that this could be incursions such as occurred last week, when Israel sent ground forces but then withdrew?

  • SHIMON PERES:

    Yes. We sent forces in Bint Jbail. That was the first place. They were there for a couple of days to clean the place, and they came back home.