The current war being waged against Israel by Hizballah and its Syrian and Iranian patrons is in large part the result of Israel’s long-time, hands-off policy with regard to the Lebanon-based fundamentalist terror group. Since Israel’s overnight unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, Hizballah built itself into a deterrent military force possessing 13,000 to 15,000 short- and medium-range missiles. The terror organization exploited Israel’s political preference to maintain the relative quiet for the residents of its northern border communities instead of uprooting the Hizballah terror infrastructure and risking war. As a result of Israel’s skittishness to confront it, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah assessed that he could determine when to launch hostilities against Israel completely on Hizballah’s terms.
Hizballah – the “Party of God” – has no red lines.
Any strategic strike that it can execute, it will execute, limited only by its ability and the conditions permitting it to carry out an attack at any particular moment. In that regard, Hassan Nasrallah lives in his own bubble in which he judges democratic Israel the same way he judges the Lebanese or those in Hizballah. Nasrallah recently called Israeli resolve “weaker than a spider’s web.”
Israel’s current military operations to uproot Hizballah and to destroy it as a formidable military and terror organization is not merely an operation against another determined terror group like Hamas in Gaza. Hizballah has a disciplined, well-trained army with sophisticated weaponry, backed directly by Syria and Iran.
A high-level Iranian official recently emphasized to Western diplomats in London Hizballah’s importance to Iran: “Hizballah is one of the pillars of our security strategy, and forms Iran’s first line of defense against Israel.” Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader, shares this perspective: “The war is no longer Lebanon’s…it is an Iranian war. Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards provide the majority of Hizballah’s weaponry, financing, instruction, and strategic command and control. Hizballah’s short- and medium-range missiles are manufactured in Iran and exported to Lebanon via the Damascus International Airport. Iranian officers from the Revolutionary Guards are on the ground in Lebanon, playing active roles in supervising terror actions and training Hizballah operatives to launch rockets against Israel.
Hizballah is nothing less than an extension of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran has taken a strategic decision to activate Hizballah terror against Israel in order to preclude the United States and its Western allies from stopping Iran’s nuclear development program.
The only way to defeat an insurgency is to first isolate it from external reinforcement. Israel is seeking to cut off Hizballah from Syria and Iran and isolate it from the rest of Lebanon. Israel must carry out its current military operation against Hizballah until it is fully neutralized and disarmed. It would be nothing short of catastrophic for both Israel and the international community if diplomatic efforts result in Israel being forced to end its military operation prematurely.