MOUNT ADIR, Israel - Families who lost loved ones in the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 gathered on Mount Adir in the Upper Galilee to mark the war's third anniversary.
Major-General Gadi Eizenkot, head of the IDF's (Israel Defense Forces) Northern Command, addressed the families.
"Today, dozens of families who lost their loved ones came back here to the northern border on the third national anniversary of the 121 troops who fell in the war, to climb Mount Adir and embark on a 'Journey of the Living,'" the commander said.
"Three years after a war that sparked a controversy over its cause, length, failures and achievements, there is one issue on which we all agree and are united on and that's the appreciation and respect we have from the bottom of our hearts for the fighters' spirit and courage and the need to commemorate them," Eizenkot said.
"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 out desire for a peaceful existence as a weakness that can be taken advantage of," he said.
In the three years following the war, the IDF shored up its ranks, applying lessons learned from the war.
"The IDF has corrected the faults discovered in the war, and the enemy across the border can see this," the general said, referring to Hezbollah.
"There were indeed shortcomings in the preparedness of IDF forces, but the goal was just," he said.
At 6 p.m. (Israeli time), families will gather at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl military cemetery for a state ceremony honoring the soldiers.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news