Israel will offer a “powerful response” if it is attacked by terror groups Hezbollah or Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday at a ceremony marking 10 years since the Second Lebanon War.
Netanyahu described the 2006 war as “a clash between an extremist terror organization with an Islamist ideology and a free democratic Israel.”
“We are in a global battle. We are aware of the nature of the threats we face, and are preparing for any scenario,” he said at a ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery.
Hezbollah and Hamas, he said, “have established forward bases of Iran on our border. Everything that has happened in the Middle East in recent years is part of the same trend: radical Islamic terror that seeks to shatter liberty and culture with its sword thrusts.
“This terror strikes not only Sarona or Otniel — it strikes in Paris and Nice, Brussels and Orlando. We are in a global campaign. Just as we are well aware of the character of the threats, so we are preparing for every contingency.”
Israel was prepared for war, he said.
“If the quiet is preserved, those who stand against us will also enjoy quiet. But if we must respond to aggression, the response will be powerful. Anyone who thinks they will find here a ‘spider’s web’ will come up against an ‘iron wall,’ and will feel an iron fist.”
The Israeli premier was alluding to a 2000 speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which he called the Jewish state “feebler than a spider’s web.”
The 2006 conflict erupted when Israel retaliated for a cross-border raid in which Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three, and quickly spiralled into a fully fledged war.
Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into northern Israel, which carried out devastating strikes across Lebanon.
Many people in Israel considered the massive ground and air war on Lebanon to be a failure because it did not halt Hezbollah rocket fire or recover the two captured soldiers.
It lasted 34 days and led to the deaths of 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
President Reuven Rivlin praised the IDF troops who fought in the 34-day conflict.
It was the ordinary soldiers, he said, who “compensated for the failures and flaws exposed in preparedness. A war in which heroism and fortitude overcame what was found lacking in emergency stockpiles and equipment.”
Despite widespread criticism in Israel of the conduct of the war, Hezbollah was defeated, Rivlin said, and the victory brought ten years of calm to the northern border.
“Hezbollah received a severe blow during that battle,” he said. In the years since, “quiet has returned to the north, tourism is booming, and communities are growing.
“But we must internalize the essence of the threat that we face, and listen at all times to the sounds of war bubbling beneath the deceptive calm. Hezbollah continues to rearm itself and it has not ceased in its efforts to destroy Israel.”