AL JAZEERA TV: GOD'S CHARIOT PART 2 OF 3
On July 12th 2006, Hezbollah guerrillas in Southern Lebanon crossed the border into Israel and killed three Israeli soldiers. They captured two others.
Israel responded by sending in one of its celebrated Merkava tanks. It ran over a Hezbollah mine and was destroyed.
This dramatic moment marked the start of a full-scale war, the failure of which provoked a crisis in Israel's military and political establishments.
The Merkava was designed as a result of a similar crisis: the near disaster of the 1973 ('Yom Kippur') war in which Israel suffered significant casualties.
The Israeli government charged General Israel Tal with designing a new tank to protect Israel's soldiers and crush its enemies.
The Merkava was to be the best-protected tank in the world, but by the time it emerged in 1979, the military threat posed by Israel's enemies was decreasing.
The Arab-Israeli war was entering a new stage, the relevance of tanks to which was unclear.