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Memorial ceremony held for Lebanon War dead

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A memorial ceremony for the families of soldiers slain in the second Lebanon War marked three years since the conflict.

The families of the 121 soldiers killed in the July 2006 war attended the state ceremony held Wednesday at Mount Herzl. They also visited Mount Adir in the Upper Galilee, which features a view of southern Lebanon and the site of a memorial.

"It has only been three years, but it feels like ages,"  Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "The war is still present in the collective Israeli consciousness in the form of an eye-opening wake-up call. For you, the war represents a terrible breaking point after which nothing can ever be the same."

"IDF soldiers went to battle with the knowledge, which was also apparent in the home front, that a response is necessary. Israel isn’t a country eager to go to war, but Hezbollah crossed red lines and Israel was perceived as weak and paralyzed in the eyes of the organization," said Barak, who was not the defense minister during the war.

Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who now heads the Israeli army’s Northern Command, but did not during the war, said that "The cause was just and disrupted an unbearable reality in the North whereby the Hezbollah organization was deployed along the border, initiated terror attacks once every few months and interpreted our desire for a peaceful existence as a weakness which can be taken advantage of."

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