Netanyahu Marks Second Lebanon War's 10th Anniversary: Despite Failings, War Was 'Justified'

At anniversary event in Jerusalem, Netanyahu stresses effort invested in learning the war's lessons; President Rivlin praises country's self-criticism, urges unity in advance of a possible future conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laying a wreath during the 10th anniversary ceremony marking the 2006 Lebanon War, at Har Herzl in Jerusalem, on July 19, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War that the war was waged “with justified objectives, despite the difficulties and shortcomings that were discovered during the fighting.”

Netanyahu added, “We have invested, and continue to invest, tremendous effort in learning every possible lesson from them.”

President Reuven Rivlin, who spoke before Netanyahu, said: “We cannot applaud ourselves. The ability to investigate thoroughly, to criticize and to undergo a comprehensive learning process that helps to make large-scale changes, as we did after the Second Lebanon War, is not to be taken for granted. It attests to the power of the State of Israel. That is our strength, and we must continue to do this.”

In his speech at the ceremony, held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the prime minister said that the war “was not a war over territory, nor was it fundamentally a war between countries per se. It was a clash between an extremist Islamist organization and democratic and independent Israel, which sanctifies human dignity.”

The Second Lebanon War, between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, began on July 12, 2006 and lasted about seven weeks, after which a United Nations cease-fire went into effect.

In his speech at the ceremony, Rivlin mentioned Hezbollah, noting that the militant movement “has not stopped directing its efforts at trying to destroy Israel. Lately it has admitted openly that it doesn’t serve only Lebanese interests, but is a spearhead that is activated by and for the Iranians,” the president said.

Rivlin called for Israelis to close ranks in advance of a possible conflict in the future. “We know that the next war – if it is forced upon us – will be difficult, and still, we will always emerge with the upper hand. Because, my honored friends, there will be no second opportunity. We don’t have the privilege of not being prepared, of not being fit, of not seeing what’s coming. We don’t have the privilege of beating up one another and becoming addicted to a shortsighted game, where the shared good, the shared basis, the keystone that connects us to one another, is pulled out from under us.

"We must not forget for a moment that the unity, resistance and fortitude demonstrated by the Jewish people and the Israeli home front in the Second Lebanon War are the source of Israel’s strength, the source of its power,” said Rivlin.