As the war continued in the north, more and more tanks were damaged. Many voices were heard in the past declaring the Merkava MK 4 model as "the safest in the world," but it turned out that many of these tanks were damaged by Hizbullah antitank missiles, causing the IDF a significant number of losses.
Colonel Moti Kidor, Commander of the 401 Armored Corps Brigade, however, says that "those who ask these questions simply don't understand the field, and unfortunately these include senior IDF officers. When you look at the full picture, one understands that during the war hundreds of antitank missiles were fired, and in total 18 tanks were damaged. Of those, missiles penetrated only five or six. To my sorrow, eight soldiers were killed in these incidents."
Merkava tank in Lebanon (Photo: AP)
He added: "Like every tank in the past and in the future, the Merkava MK 4 is vulnerable. It's basically like asking why a chopper fell. If you strike it, it falls. I don't think there is any surprise here, and whoever is surprised simply doesn't understand. It's true that eight soldiers were killed in tanks, and that every soldier is a world in himself, but in relation to the number of missiles fired at us – it's not a lot."
In total dozens of Armored Corps soldiers were hurt and dozens of tanks hit, all from the Merkava MK 2, 3, and 4, some from tanks sent from the war reserves store unit shortly before entering in Lebanon. Among those injured were many reserves.
"Only a small number of tanks were seriously damaged, most of them have already been returned to units after the recovery," said a senior IDF officer.
"The Armored Corps played in this war, like in previous war of the State of Israel, a central role in the fighting, and absorbed many casualties. We'll have to take away lessons from this to be ready for the next war," the source added.