It is three years to the day since the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, and the families of fallen Israeli soldiers are just as bitter towards Israel's political leaders.
The Israel Defense Forces launched a month-long battle with Hezbollah during the summer of 2006, following the abduction of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. More than 130 IDF soldiers lost their lives in the fighting, a significant number in the final days of the fighting.
Atop Mount Adir, rising over the Galilee's Miron nature preserve, dozens of bereaved families gathered Wednesday to break the ground for a new memorial overlooking southern Lebanon and its battlefields.
Many parents began the day with a hike from the foot of the mountain upwards, through "The Fighters' Trail," named in honor of the fallen soldiers.
David Einhorn, the representative for the bereaved families who lost his own son, Staff Sergeant Jonathan Einhorn, near the south Lebanese village of Aita a-Sha'ab, told the gatherers:
"This mountain looks over southern Lebanon, from where the evil emerged three years ago, while on the other side looks over the precious scenery of the north, for which the soldiers fought."
"Our children went into battle armed with the best tools of war: love for the homeland, motivation for the coming battle. [They were] ready for any mission, imbued with a readiness to fight against a cruel enemy, armed with dedication, determination, and readiness for sacrifice," he said.
"To our great sorrow, the hope that we hung on our leadership proved to be a disappointment," he said.
"Those needed to speak up fell silent, while those who needed to remain silent kept up their chatter. Those who had to act were overtaken by paralysis while those who needed to take proper decisions had their eyes shut," Einhorn said. "Ultimately, all those who sent our children to the difficult, bitter battles do not to this day recognize the concept of responsibility."
"We will see it this evening in an official ceremony on Mount Herzl," he said. "We will see who remembers those who fell in the name of the state and those who forgot them."
My son was a victim of something that shouldn't have occurred
Danielle Dan stood on a hilltop overlooking the Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, where her son ? Sgt. Maj. (res.) Elad Dan ? was killed. The gathering didn't change anything, she said.
"Every day is a difficult and painful day," Dan said. "I personally don't feel a connection to ceremonies and events. If we were to invest the amount of energy that we invest into memorializing, into making peace instead, we would be in a different place today."
Dan added that the war was problematic from her point of view, and that she does not subscribe to the optimistic approach that says the reality in the north has changed since the war.
"My son was a victim of something that shouldn't have occurred," she said.
Yona Shmucher said that this was the first time she had ever seen the Lebanese village of Debel - where her son Capt. (res.) Yoni Shmucher was killed.
"For three years the family tried to stop me from doing this out of a fear that it would only increase the pain," Shmucher said. "It was important for me to see this, I saw a house that reminds me of the description of the house in which Yoni was killed, I saw that damned place."
After leaving the outlook, Shmucher said that "despite the importance I can not say that the circle has been closed. This circle will never be closed. Time does not heal the wounds and the pain stays with me every day."
Shmucher said she still has a lot of pain inside of her.
"Only if the country experiences some quiet for many more years, maybe then there will be some comfort," she added.
GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot said at the ceremony that "three years after the war that was ambiguous in its aims, its failures and its accomplishments, there is one subject over which there is no dispute and on which everybody is united ? the appreciation and the respect from deep within our hearts for the spirit of the fighters, the daring of their spirit, the courage in the hearts and the obligation to preserve their memories and heritage."
Eizenkot added that there were "faults in training, in readiness, and in the way in which we used our military strength, but the aim was just and interrupted an intolerable reality in the north, a reality in which Hezbollah spread out across the length of the border, initiating terror attacks for several months and explaining our desire for a peaceful life as a weakness open to exploitation."
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