The second Lebanon war began on July 12, 2006, which was the 17th of Tammuz, the fast established in our tradition to recall the many tragedies that struck our people on that date.
This war also proved to be difficult for the Jewish people. At the same time, recalling the events of those days, we learn of a number of striking “coincidences” that occurred at that time, which makes it difficult not to recognize the miracle and interference of the Almighty`s Providence.
In fact that war was the first in which thousands of rockets and mortar shells hit the Israeli military rear. The Israeli army had not yet developed the ability to detect rocket launches and track their trajectory as it does today. There were no anti-missile systems like the “Iron Dome” that could cope with a massive bombardment of short-range missiles.
All in all about 4,200 rockets of various types were fired at Israel during that war, killing 44 citizens of the country — 20 Arabs and 24 Jews, may the Almighty avenge their blood. At the same time the potential civilian casualties estimated by experts on that day were much higher, since еру active defense systems were not yet well-developed. The “Hetz” anti-missile batteries (designed to counter long-range missiles) did not have the capacity to shoot down unguided short-range tactical missiles (today, according to IDF publications, the “Hetz-2, Block-4” batteries are capable of countering the similar types of missiles with rather long ranges). In turn, the “Patriot” anti-aircraft missile systems also had very limited capabilities to intercept tactical missiles and, in fact, did not shoot down any of them.
The casualty rate was therefore expected to be much higher. Nevertheless, by the grace and miracles shown to us by the Almighty, the number of dead and wounded was still much lower. But we should not forget that fifteen years ago there were fewer fortified rooms and facilities in residential buildings than there are today.
Rocket Attack on the Corvette “Hanit”
As you may recall, during that war, the flagship of our Navy, the multipurpose “Saar 5” corvette, the “Hanit” (“Spear”) was hit directly by an anti-ship rocket fired by Hizbullah operatives from the shore. Four members of the corvette’s crew were killed. "“Hanit” was struck by a Chinese-made C-802 medium-range tactical anti-ship cruise missile purchased by Iran and transferred to Hizbullah.
A post-war investigation of the details of the incident revealed that only an apparent miracle prevented the corvette from sinking and killing its entire crew. The atmosphere in the navy at the time was relaxed, the belief that there was no real threat to the Israeli Navy.
This was due to the fact that the Syrian navy was considered outdated and reluctant to take any action. Armed with the Soviet made “Termite” anti-ship missiles (“Styx” according to the US and NATO DOD classification) developed in the mid-1950s, the Syrian navy was in fact defeated by the Israelis during the Yom Kippur war. Back then, the Israeli Navy already employed Israel-developed electronic suppression systems that used “Amnon” missiles, which created a “cloud of dipole reflectors,” essentially blinding the navigation systems of Syrian, or more precisely, Soviet, missiles.
As a result, the Syrian and Egyptian navies suffered a crushing defeat in that war, and because the Syrian navy (unlike the Egyptian) remained at the same technical level, the Israeli navy felt self-reluctant about the threat on the northern sea front. Especially since it was known that all three Syrian submarines were by then completely outdated and deteriorated, and therefore, in fact, were removed from service.
Later, naval officers said that when they went to the shores of Lebanon and Syria to impose a blockade on Lebanese ports, they were confident that they had nothing to fear. What they didn’t know was that “Hizbullah” had prepared a death trap for them. The powerful C-802 anti-ship missiles with a warhead weighing almost half a ton were the terrible surprise that the “Hizbullah” terrorists had prepared for the Israeli Navy.
On Saturday night, a few days after the war began, Nasrallah claimed that his organization had succeeded in blowing up an Israeli corvette. This message was transmitted in Israel as well, but it was met with obvious disbelief. A few hours later, however, the awful truth emerged. The flagship of the Navy, the corvette “Hanit”, which was performing a naval blockade of the Lebanese coast, was struck by a direct hit from a missile.
The heavy Chinese missile, designed to sink large warships, had a special warhead, which at first penetrated the armor of the ship, and only then, after breaking through the defense, exploded.
Even worse, the investigation showed that the ship’s radar was malfunctioning, and at some point, due to technical problems (and fear of harming his own aircraft), one of the corvette’s officers disabled the warning system completely. Thus, the missile fired by the terrorists against the ship was not detected at all.
If the enemy missile launch had been detected in time, the ship’s various defense mechanisms would have kicked in: active and passive electronic warfare systems, the “Barak” missile defense system designed to intercept anti-ship missiles, and the “Vulcan-Phalanx” surface-to-air artillery system, which has a particularly high rate of fire and can withstand a missile attack.
However, all these systems were not activated at all because the radar was malfunctioning and the protection was disabled... In short, the corvette was completely exposed to the enemy.
The Hizbullah terrorists fired two rockets. One hit our corvette. The other hit an Egyptian cement merchant ship from Egypt heading for the port of Tartus in Syria. The Egyptian ship was badly damaged and eventually sank.
A real miracle happened to the Israeli ship. The heavy rocket didn’t hit the main hull of the ship, instead it hit the crane that was installed on the stern. The crane, sticking out just one meter above the stern deck, took most of the blast. As a result, the missile did not penetrate the ship’s hull and instead of exploding inside the ship as it should have, it exploded above the deck, completely destroying the ship’s crane.
As a result of this powerful external explosion, four of our soldiers were killed, may the Almighty avenge their blood. At the same time, because the explosion took place outside, a severe disaster was avoided.
At this very moment, a Shabbat dinner was being held inside the ship’s hold, and dozens of crew members were listening to the kiddush from the ship’s commanders. Thus, miraculously, the lives of all those crew members who were in the hold on the kiddush were saved.
A fire broke out on the ship, but the corvette was able to make its way to the port in Ashdod. The repair took about a month, but the corvette “Hanit” was back in service in August 2006.
Read more about the miracle on the corvette “Hanit” in the article “Where is the rocket aimed”.