Under Fire: Former MK recounts Lebanon war

Former MK and Lt Col Yoni Chetboun tells Arutz Sheva about the different perceptions of the 2006 war, need for unity among all Israelis.

Hezki Baruch,

Yoni Chetboun
Yoni Chetboun
Hezki Baruch

Former MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) spoke with Arutz Sheva about 2006's Second Lebanon War. Chetboun fought in the war and has now publishing a book titled "Under Fire" about his experiences.

"This book that I wrote is about our experiences and my experience as a commander in the Israeli army during the Second Lebanon War, and especially about the Bint Jbeil battle in which my friend, the commander Roi Klein jumped on a grenade and saved our soldiers. This book talks about our story, our experience, and how to make decisions during extreme situations," he explained.

When asked whether he felt that Israel won the war, Chetboun answered: "There is a gap between what we experienced as soldiers and commanders in the field, and what happened in the government. In each battle, we saw that we beat Hezbollah every time, but the government and senior commanders had no goal for the army. No one knew what would happen after Bint Jbeil, what would happen after our battle. And we really saw this gap between the soldiers in the field and the senior commanders in the government.

"I want to say that, if you look at the past ten years, they have been the most silent years in the north since the Second Lebanon War. So we have to thank our soldiers and our army and our government for doing what we wanted. But I have to say that there is also a gap between the Israeli society and what they understood was happening in the war, and what actually happened in the field of battle.

"When we finished the battle in Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon, we felt that we had won the battle. We had our blood and the blood of our friends in our uniforms. We understood that we killed 100 Hezbollah warriors. But then we returned to Israel and saw what was happening. The newspaper articles and highlights claimed 'this was was not a necessary war' and 'the soldiers died for nothing.'"

He added that Israelis have become more united since 2006, which could be clearly seen in the attitudes towards 2014's Operation Protective Edge. And while he acknowledged that there is a role for criticism and second guessing, it should be left until after the war.

The interviewer asked Chetboun to offer a message to people considering joining the IDF in light of delegitimization campaigns against the IDF.

"As a lieutenant colonel in the army and the commander of a battalion, I have to say that serving in the Israeli army is a right for every Israeli and for every Jew around the world," he said. "The Israeli army is the army of the Jewish People, what we call the 'People's Army.' You meet all kinds of people from Israeli society - people from towns in the south and north, from kibbutzim and moshavim. And you feel what is achdut (unity) in the army.

"For me it's a right to serve in the army. We understand that there is a security situation in Israel. It's a complex situation. In the north, especially from Hezbollah, and in the south from Hamas. There is a need for young people like you. People from the United States and France or in Israel have the right and the duty to serve in the army. Of course, when the BDS movement wants to delegitimize the Israeli army, we need people that believe and understand what they do and why they are going to the army."

Chetboun finished by discussing his plans for the future.

"The last year since the election, has been a year for thinking and understanding what is happening now in politics and what happened in the last election. I think that the Yachad movement understood the values of the Torah and that unifying all sectors of Israel is very important. But we have to understand the politics is a hard game and we have to prepare for the next election. Actually, I haven't make a decision about where I want to go, but I want to return to politics.

"I am sure that serving in the army and serving as a politician in the Knesset is the same thing. If you want to help the Jewish People and you want to help your society and help the Jews all around the world, you have to be involved as a politician, in politics."

Under Fire has not yet been translated into English.


More Arutz Sheva videos:


top