The 2006 Second Lebanon War was widely seen in its time as a mishandled war that failed to achieve the objectives set by then-premier Ehud Olmert, including the destruction of Hezbollah. A decade later, that assessment is changing.
In a letter to troops on the tenth anniversary of the war, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Sunday that the war had dealt “a severe blow to the Hezbollah organization, reestablished Israeli deterrence,” and helped bring about “a sustained and stable quiet along the Lebanese border that is a boon to civilians on both sides of the border.”
In the letter, Eisenkot, who served as the army’s chief of operations during the war, acknowledged the command failures of 2006, but said that they had driven the army to massively improve its capabilities, training and equipment, as well as emergency preparedness for the homefront in the event of massive missile barrages on Israel’s cities.
“We see the dramatic advances we’ve made in the years [since 2006]. The IDF of 2016 is prepared, trained and equipped… The regimen of training for IDF fighters has increased and improved. Steps were taken to improve the readiness and operational capabilities of the reserves,” he said.
“The defense of the homefront has been improved in order to ensure the safety of Israel’s citizens in wartime and to grant the frontline fighters the breathing room to defend and win. All of these things will enable the IDF — if it is so ordered — to win in a future conflict,” Eisenkot added.
The threat from Lebanon has not abated, he wrote, but “I am certain and sure that if the order is given, we will be able to carry out the IDF’s mission — to protect the country, ensure its existence, and if necessary, win a war.”
The letter was published as part of a new website established by the IDF to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of that war, in which 165 Israelis, including 44 civilians, were killed. Over 1,100 Lebanese, including both Hezbollah fighters and civilians, died in the war.
The IDF’s website includes previously unseen footage and audio recordings of IDF battlefield communications, testimonies of commanders and soldiers, and a site commemorating those who fell in battle during the 34 days of fighting.