Barak: Troops made up for superiors' mistakes

At state ceremony to commemorate 2nd Lebanon War, defense minister praises "bravery, wisdom" of soldiers.

lebanon war cermony 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
lebanon war cermony 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
"The Second Lebanon War has been scorched into Israel's consciousness," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at Mount Herzl on Wednesday, at the state ceremony marking three years since the campaign. The attendees included the families of the 121 soldiers who died in the war, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. "Only three years have passed, but it is as if an entire era has gone by in this land, so filled with events," Barak said. "The State of Israel does not rejoice in battle, restraint also has its power. We must know how to hold ourselves back, to a point, because of broad political considerations, or an honest aspiration to prevent, as far as possible, military conflict, and to see it as a last resort... The restraint [Israel] maintained for a prolonged period earned it international credit... but Hizbullah interpreted this restraint in a criminal manner. "The soldiers in the field showed courage, resourcefulness, self-sacrifice and brotherhood in arms," the defense minister said. He went on to praise their ability to "more than once, overcome the mistakes made by those in the senior ranks. One fact is inarguable - their courage is what determined [the outcome]." On the war's results, Barak said that "effective deterrence was achieved following the war and quiet has returned to the northern border. Nevertheless, we did not achieve all our goals. Hizbullah has continued to rearm itself. The Lebanese government has given legitimacy to Hizbullah for all of its future actions against Israel. The war influenced the IDF and on a certain level, the decision-making process of the political echelon," the minister said. Earlier, as grieving families convened on the Upper Galilee's Mount Adir, east of Ma'alot, a peak that provides a vista of southern Lebanon, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said Israel can "no longer be likened to a spider web." Eizenkot was referring to comments by Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who said in a speech several years ago that Israeli society was similar to "a spider web" in the sense that hurting the Israeli home front would cause the IDF to collapse. "The IDF has corrected the faults discovered in the war, and the enemy across the border sees this. Israel can no longer be likened to a spider web," said Eizenkot. Turning to the relatives of the fallen, the major-general said "there indeed were shortcomings in the preparedness of IDF forces, but the goal was just." "Today, dozens of families who lost their loved ones came back here, to the northern border, on the third national anniversary of the 121 soldiers who fell in the war, to climb Mount Adir and embark on a 'journey of the living,'" he said.