Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and ex-IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz gave a passionate defense of the Second Lebanon War on Thursday, claiming that it contributed to bolstering Israel’s deterrence in the region.

Speaking just days after he was acquitted on major corruption charges, Olmert said that the 34-day war changed Israel’s strategic reality.

“It brought about a deterrence that had never previously existed on the Lebanese border,” Olmert said.

Halutz said that if he was in the same position today as he was on July 12, 2006, he would urge the government again to go to war against Hezbollah.

“The decision to go to war was correct, justified and proper,” he said.

Olmert admitted that there were mistakes made during the war, which ended with the establishment of the Winograd Committee to investigate the military and government failures.

He said that one of the war’s significant achievements was the unprecedented international support Israel received, despite extensive attacks on civilian infrastructure.

“This did not happen by coincidence but rather because we knew how to create international legitimacy around us that gave us the support to do these things,” Olmert said.

In a direct assault on Defense Minister Ehud Barak – his former coalition partner – he said that the Second Lebanon War actually began in 2000 following the kidnapping of three IDF soldiers by Hezbollah. Barak was prime minister at the time.

“The war started the day that Israel promised to shake the ground in Lebanon over the kidnapping of three soldiers,” Olmert said, referring to Barak’s ultimate decision not to respond at the time. “The Second Lebanon War started the moment when Israel lost its deterrence.”

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