Israel’s top brass awarded citations for bravery to 142 military personnel who distinguished themselves in the Lebanon war.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the chief of Israel’s armed forces, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, officiated Sunday at a Tel Aviv ceremony where 38 soldiers, pilots and seamen, some of them reservists, received decorations for courage during last year’s 34-day offensive against Hezbollah.
Another 104 recipients – among them several who fell in battle – were honored in private ceremonies. Posthumous decorations went to the families of the deceased.
Some Israeli commentators suggested that the number of citations awarded Sunday was overblown given the failings of the Lebanon war in which a few hundred Hezbollah guerrillas managed to hold out for weeks against the Middle East’s mightiest military.
But Barak, addressing the gathering, rose to the defense of the Israel Defense Forces.
“No war in the history of Israel went according to the book,” he said. “If anyone makes the mistake of launching a war against us, as was done in the past, then the fellows sitting here tonight are the answer, and they will bring us victory.”