Iran

Hezbollah Claims Its Threats Forced Israel to Adopt “Defensive” Position

A Hezbollah officer boasted on Thursday that the Iran-backed terror organization had forced Israel to switch “from an offensive to a defensive doctrine,” The Times of Israel reported.

The official’s claim appears to refer to countermeasures Israel adopted across its northern border to fight possible infiltration by Hezbollah, whether by land or by sea.

Hezbollah, which gained extensive combat experience in the Syrian civil war, was deemed the “clear winner” in that conflict by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, a former director of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, said in March that another war between Israel and Hezbollah was “only a question of time.” A week later, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot assessed that Hezbollah is building up its arsenal in Lebanon, which will bear the brunt of any future conflict between the Iranian proxy and Israel. Israeli security officials warned earlier that month that the Lebanese army, which receives American aid, would fight alongside Hezbollah in a war against Israel.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted last June that Iran provides his terrorist group with everything it needs. “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Nasrallah said. “As long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it.”

Nasrallah’s acknowledgement of Iranian aid seems to confirm a public assurance given to him in August 2015 by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the nuclear deal Iran reached with global powers presented “a historic opportunity” to confront Israel. Iran recently announced that its defense spending would increase by 90 percent in the coming year.

According to a July 2016 report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israeli officials believe that any future war with Hezbollah has the potential to cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel. Hezbollah has, among other things, threatened to attack ammonium tanks in Haifa, which could kill tens of thousands of people.

The think tank’s vice president for research, Jonathan Schanzer, explained in July that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas would also lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged two years ago that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment.

[Photo: AP Archive / YouTube ]