Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of the second Lebanon War involving Israel and the Hizballah terror organization. On July 12, 2006, Hizballah fighters staged a cross-border raid into northern Israel using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, killing three Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers patrolling near the border. Two other IDF soldiers were kidnapped by Hizballah that day and later died in captivity.
Within several hours, five more Israeli soldiers had died in fighting the terrorists in southern Lebanon, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had decided to go to war against Hizballah. During the subsequent 34-day war, Israel launched punishing military strikes at Hizballah targets in Lebanon, and Hizballah launched more than 4,000 rockets at Haifa and other civilian targets throughout northern Israel.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms of the ceasefire, required "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon" including Hizballah. But the Iranian-backed Shiite group has ignored that requirement. The IDF estimates that Hizballah now has tripled the size of its missile arsenal since 2006, and has weapons with heavier payloads that may be able to cover all of Israel.
Many in Lebanon believe another war is inevitable and that the 2006 conflict left Israel with a weakened deterrence posture. Hizballah commemorated the fifth anniversary of the war by warning Israel that it would pay a huge price if it attacked Iran or Lebanon.
"We will definitely smash Israel if this occupying and corrupt regime wants to commit another mistake and wage another attack on Lebanon," said Abdullah Safieddin, Hizballah's envoy to Iran.
The IDF on Tuesday paid tribute to Captain Yoni Roth, who was seriously wounded during the battle of Bint Jbeil, a Lebanese village located last than two miles from the border with Israel that was the scene fierce fighting.
Roth (at the time a sergeant) was shot in the back three times, with one of the Hizballah bullets puncturing his lung. His recovery has been slow and difficult. At first, he was confined to a wheelchair. He eventually learned to walk again and now runs in "half marathons."
Fourteen Israeli soldiers died in the battle of Bint Jbeil – a town referred to as "Hizballah's capital" in Southern Lebanon - and 31 others were wounded in the fighting.