Ten years after the second Lebanon war, there remains a widespread perception in Israel that it was a failure—a perception bolstered both by Hizballah leaders’ subsequent declarations of victory and by the Knesset’s Winograd commission, which found numerous failings on the part of both the IDF and the Olmert government. However, argues Yaakov Amidror, the war was in many ways a success:
This notorious campaign . . . has given Israel unprecedented calm on the northern border. [But] the media . . . evaluated the campaign’s success according to its own expectations rather than according to the campaign’s effect on the enemy. . . .
As it turns out, the Israel Defense Forces inflicted massive damage on Hizballah. [Its leader, Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah, found himself in a highly precarious situation in which his men were a hair’s breadth from their breaking point. . . .
[Israelis’] criticism of the military was justified, but as Nasrallah learned the hard way, the IDF has the upper hand in any clash with Hizballah. Nasrallah understood he was on the verge of a crushing defeat, one he could not spin into a “divine victory.” The crippling blows Hizballah suffered, particularly at the hands of the Israel Air Force, also explain why the Shiite terrorist group has been focusing considerable effort on building up its air defenses.
The second reason for the misperception is that Israeli pundits failed to account for Iranian interests. Iran formed Hizballah as its regional proxy, a long strategic arm to be used to generate deterrence and retaliate for major events. And there the group was, wasting its resources on a minor move like the abduction of two Israeli soldiers, for which it was made to pay dearly. Already anxious about its strategic asset, Iran responded to Hizballah’s gambit by deciding it needed to supervise the group far more strictly. . . . So, following the 2006 campaign, Iran imposed restrictions on Hizballah’s aggression.