While Hezbollah has long called for the destruction of Israel, only recently have efforts to quash the Lebanese terror group ramped up. Tablet’s Tony Badran writes that Israeli strikes on Hezbollah inside Lebanon, paired with the latest U.S. sanctions, show a big policy change toward the terrorist organization:
Tags: Hezbollah Israel Lebanon Tablet Terrorism Tony Badran US-Israel Relations
After a period of relative calm on Israel’s northern border, the past two weeks have seen a sudden spate of attacks and counterattacks between Israel and Hezbollah. The escalation began on Aug. 24 when Israeli Defense Forces thwarted a planned Iranian and Hezbollah drone attack from the Golan Heights. The IDF’s strike killed two Iranian-trained Hezbollah operatives in their compound near Damascus. Israel reportedly followed this operation with another, hitting components of Hezbollah’s missile infrastructure in the heart of its Beirut stronghold. Hezbollah retaliated this past Sunday by attacking an IDF vehicle in northern Israel, prompting a volley of Israeli artillery fire into southern Lebanon.
The dust is still clearing, but what’s clear is that Israel’s operation reflects a new security footing towards Hezbollah that is being put into effect at the same time the U.S. increases pressure on the group on other fronts. All told, it’s plain that August did not end auspiciously for Hezbollah. First, Israel seemingly resumed operations in Lebanon against Hezbollah and Iranian missile capabilities. Then shortly after, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Lebanon-based Jammal Trust Bank, which it described as Hezbollah’s “bank of choice.” These actions mark an important shift in both Israeli and U.S. policies, which is likely to deepen Hezbollah’s strategic dilemma.
For the past decade, Hezbollah’s strategy has relied on two key conditions both of which now appear to be coming to an end. The first condition was that the U.S. would continue to pay into the myth of an independent Lebanese state that exists separate and autonomous from the terror group. That indulgence has granted Hezbollah the critical freedom to operate through the auspices of Lebanese institutions like the armed forces and banking system, without facing penalty from the U.S. The second condition on which Hezbollah relied, an outgrowth of Syria’s civil war, was Israel’s general avoidance of conducting military operations inside Lebanese territory. Events over the past month suggest that these twin pillars of the Hezbollah edifice, behind which sits Iran’s designs for the Middle East, are wearing down as the Trump administration’s new security approach to the Middle East opens up new possibilities in the region…