Limor Simhony Philpott

Why everyone is worried about Hezbollah

Credit: Getty Images

Hezbollah has escalated attacks against Israel in the last few days. The Iran-backed Lebanese militant organisation started firing missiles into Israel when the war against Hamas started last October. In the three months since, it has kept attacks limited in order to avoid an escalation into a full-scale war, but the situation is highly volatile.

Since the Israeli assassination of senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut a week ago, tensions have been rising. Hezbollah’s attacks have intensified further this week, following the killing of top commander Wissam Tawil. Tawil commanded Hezbollah’s elite Radwan fighting forces based close to the border with Israel. Today Israel killed two more Hezbollah commanders: one headed the organisation’s aerial forces in south Lebanon. Israel’s airforce and artillery have also attacked Hezbollah infrastructure.

Hezbollah forces have used drones equipped with explosives and missiles to attack strategic Israeli military targets. In one of the strikes, Hezbollah successfully hit an Israeli military command centre, but otherwise achievements have been limited.

Despite the recent escalation, Hezbollah prefers to avoid a full-scale war against Israel. Attacks on both sides have so far been limited and calculated. The organisation’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has made it clear earlier in the war that Hamas’s attack was done without coordination with Hezbollah, and although the organisation supports Hamas, they consider the war a Palestinian matter. 

With vast American forces in the region, and due to Israel’s heavy handed response to the attack against it on 7 October, Hezbollah would rather not engage in a war that will damage the considerable force it has managed to build over the years. Iran also wants to avoid war and uses its proxies – Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen – to attack Israel.

Hezbollah’s missiles can hit anywhere in Israel and those can still be fired from deep inside Lebanon

Things are more complicated on the Israeli side.

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