Archives for March 2023

Excerpt From Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End

From the introduction of Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End, which is now available for purchase from Amazon:

    The War that Could Happen: Part One

At first light, Hezbollah operatives were busy readying for an afternoon onslaught. Hours earlier, Iran’s Supreme Leader had ordered Hezbollah to attack Israel. Minutes later, fiber-optic lines connecting Shiite villages throughout southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley on Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria, and South Beirut were humming with activity. Orders flew with rapid succession. Soldiers headed to their posts. Technicians prepared rockets for firing. Flight controllers prepared unmanned aerial vehicles for flight. All according to a predetermined plan to wreak havoc and despair within Israel. All for Iran’s benefit.

Just yesterday, Israel was preparing to conduct a snap drill to sharpen its air defenses for a potential battle. Nuclear talks with Iran had ended months ago. A deal had been struck despite Israel’s objections. But a deal requires two sides to agree and comply. For this deal, both sides agreed, but only one side complied. Western nations agreed to lift their economic sanctions imposed on Iran in return for Iran’s agreement to freeze its nuclear program and to permit independent inspections to ensure its compliance. But Iran did not stop its nuclear program. Instead, it upped the ante. While surreptitiously continuing to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, it also used the sudden influx of money from sanction relief to supply all its proxies, especially Hezbollah, with more advanced weaponry.

After Israel learned of Iran’s perfidy, the time for action drew near. Israel had sworn to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. This was a clear red line. If Iran’s leadership were to gain access to nuclear bombs, they would have the tools to bring about Israel’s extinction—and would likely use them, in practice or as leverage. Equally concerning was the prospect of Hezbollah possessing thousands more precision-guided rockets, paid for, and provided by Iran. This was another red line Israel could not tolerate being crossed.

And so, realizing the strategic pendulum would soon shift against it, Israel began a countdown for launching a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. When was not yet certain. If was hardly in doubt.

Israel’s preparation for the drill that morning was open and obvious to those with the technical capability to look. Iran had that capability. Israel’s preparations were quickly discovered and reported to Iran’s leadership. Was it a drill or was it the precursor for an attack?
Iran had several options. One was absorbing the blow. Another was to reveal Israel’s plans to a world unsympathetic to the Jewish state’s plight. However, for the Iranians, a third option was most enticing. Strike a blow now so powerful that it would shake Israel to its core before Israel could setback Iran’s nuclear program with a targeted strike of its own. Perhaps such a strike would mark the beginning of Israel’s demise.

But Iran had no taste for a direct military strike of its own. It did not yet have the means in its own hands to ensure success and even trying would invite a devastating response—perhaps a nuclear one.

However, Iran had the perfect tool—its proxy Hezbollah, with its massive stock of missiles—and its other proxies, also armed with rockets: the Houthis from Yemen, Iraqi Hezbollah from the deserts of Western Iraq, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza. Iran’s leaders thought a proxy war was ideal. It would give them time to build its first nuclear weapons, and they were certain Israel would be unable to strike their nuclear program during a multi-front war, with thousands of missiles hitting targets inside Israeli territory, nor would Israel risk international condemnation in its time of need. Once Iran’s nuclear weapons were built, it would be too late for Israel to do anything about it. Then, facing down Iran’s nuclear might, and being devastated by missile strikes from Hezbollah and the other proxies, Israel would be considerably weakened, and the dismantlement of the Jewish State would begin. And so, Iran sent the order to Hezbollah—strike!

    What is Hezbollah?

Simply put, Hezbollah is now the ruling power in Lebanon. This is true despite the presence of some individuals who actively oppose it and far more who are cowed into submission. Composed of radicalized Lebanese Shiites determined to see Israel destroyed, it was created and remains controlled in large part by Iran, despite its nominal independence. At its beginning, Hezbollah was an ideological terrorist movement that developed into a guerilla army that follows Shiite ideology. Over the decades, Hezbollah became a state within a state. That is, until now. Today, for all practical purposes, with its ability to shape government policy, Hezbollah is the state of Lebanon.

Since 1982, Iran has sent increasingly advanced weaponry to Hezbollah while also providing training and massive financial support. Hezbollah now possesses approximately 150,000 rockets, many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), huge quantities of other forms of sophisticated advanced weaponry, tens of thousands of battle-hardened reserves, thousands of specialized military forces, and deep financial pockets. In addition, Hezbollah boasts a massive media operation; runs sophisticated criminal operations around the globe that financially augment the hundreds of millions Iran gives it annually; and employs terrorists that strike when it sees fit. All while providing exclusive social services to Shiites within Lebanon and placing its representatives in Lebanon’s Parliament, key Cabinet positions, and government ministries.

In short, Hezbollah is a hybrid terrorist entity, taking on the role of a government authority when it wants—providing services to select constituents, inserting its operatives in every village where Shiites predominate, conducting its own foreign policy, and wielding a massive army that doubles as an internal quasi-police presence to protect Hezbollah from forces that might threaten its political power. Hezbollah manages all of this while still acting as a classic terrorist operation, killing innocents for political purposes at home and abroad while engaging in illicit activities that add hundreds of millions of dollars to its coffers.

    The War that Could Happen: Part Two

Hezbollah’s leadership was not happy about Iran’s orders. It knew war with Israel would mean devastation for Lebanon and the Shiites living there. Yet, there was no alternative. At best, refusal would mean an end to the flow of regular money and weapons from Iran, which over time would weaken Hezbollah’s grip on power. But more likely, refusal would mean elimination. Either quickly by assassination, or by competition, as hardliners newly emboldened by an angry Iran would take over from within or create new organizations that would strive to usurp Hezbollah. And, of course, if history were a guide, a grateful and newly enriched Iran, flush with money after the sanctions ended, would surely help to rebuild a Lebanon devastated by war. Iran had done so in 2006, even though it had not instigated that war. Surely Iran would do so again.

Therefore, Hezbollah initiated operations.

Many of Hezbollah’s targets inside Israel were military—including airfields, mobilization centers, and army bases. Dimona, Israel’s nuclear facility, was another obvious one. But these were not the targets whose destruction Iran hoped would shatter Israel’s morale. For that, Hezbollah also planned to strike critical economic infrastructure such as power grids, transportation centers, ports, offshore gas facilities, heavy industry, and the like. And, of course, the people of the Israel—their homes and their communities.

At 3 p.m., all was peaceful. The day had proceeded as normal in the northern Galilee. The crisp morning air had given way to heat from the rising sun. Farmers worked in their fields. Many children were still at daycare or attending after-school activities. Tourists swarmed popular attractions. In the major cities, people that commuted to work again after COVID had waned were back in their offices located in the many skyscrapers that dot the Tel Aviv environs.

Then came hell.

Hezbollah had a simple plan: Inundate Israel with thousands of missiles that would destroy its economic infrastructure; use the Radwan, an elite strike force, to capture at least one Israeli town and hold its residents hostage; and kill as many people as it could in an initial strike. Then, bombard Israel’s airfields with missiles and swarms of UAVs to impede air operations, while also firing missiles indiscriminately at soft targets such as towns, schools, and buildings to break Israeli civilian morale and complicate mobilization of Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF).

Of course, Hezbollah knew that an IDF offensive into Lebanon would be forthcoming. Yet this would also provide an opportunity to counterattack, which Hezbollah had planned for. Tunnels, bunkers, and prepositioned roadside bombs would bleed IDF ground forces entering Lebanon. Inside the country’s southern villages, Hezbollah militia units trained for this day would defend their towns. Meanwhile, from inside the homes of villagers and even from inside schools and mosques, both in the south and in other regions of Lebanon, Hezbollah’s operatives would continue firing missiles, forcing Israel to choose between ignoring the mayhem the missiles caused and seeking to destroy the homes and other structures storing the missiles, which would cost Lebanese civilian lives. Hezbollah had coldly calculated that Israel inevitably would choose the latter and was eagerly looking forward to that.


Information warfare is a tool in the arsenal of all armies, but especially so for a hybrid terrorist organization. So, Hezbollah cagily planned that part of its campaign too. Its goal was to garner international sympathy when it did not have the strength to defend itself. Therefore, as part of Hezbollah’s battle plan, it embedded operatives from its media outlet in areas where it expected to ambush Israeli ground forces rushing into Lebanon while also readying other film crews to film the damage wrought by Israeli air strikes. And where the damage was not sufficiently sympathetic, Hezbollah planned to manufacture and manipulate facts on the ground and images taken to portray what it wanted. In conjunction with that effort, Hezbollah mobilized its organized foreign correspondent operation to coordinate and transport foreign correspondents, especially friendly ones, to locations where it could best present Israel’s supposed war crimes.

But Hezbollah also depended on Iran’s assurances that it would not be alone. From the Syrian Golan, both irregular militias and Hezbollah fighters would try to cross into the Golan Heights while more missiles would fly overhead from Syria toward Israel, some fired by Iranian proxies and some by Hezbollah itself. From Western Iraq, as well as Yemen, missiles would fly too. And of course, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza would join the battle with their rockets, incendiary-laden balloons, and irregular ground forces seeking to penetrate under, over, and through the border fence while specially trained frogmen swam under the ocean’s surface north from Gaza and south from Lebanon to complete their terror missions.

From everywhere, missiles would be streaking through the skies, UAVs flying, and terrorists crossing the borders—all with the same goal of murder and mayhem. Meanwhile, with Iran’s help, Hezbollah planned to generate further havoc with a massive cyberattack, instigate uprisings in Israeli-Arab communities astride key roads to hinder the IDF’s movement and endanger the lives of Jewish civilians in northern Israel. All told, the plan would leave Israel reeling from massive blows coming from all directions, including from within its borders.

Then, Hezbollah planned to hang on. Hang on until the world stopped the fighting and Hezbollah could declare victory. Or hang on until Iran could rush the development of its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems. Then Hezbollah would be shielded by the threat that Iran would deliver those weapons to an already torn and weary Israel. Hezbollah was certain that, with its economy in ruins, thousands dead and the remainder suffering, Israel and its weakened IDF would be restrained by a civilian leadership shocked by the devastation incurred and unwilling to risk suffering more of the same.

* * * *

The scenario I describe above is not fanciful; it is realistic. Such an attack would result in massive civilian loss of life within Israel, quite possibly in the tens of thousands, and property destruction certainly in the billions. Israelis would see power outages of long-standing duration, water shortages, food supply interruptions, and economic devastation on an unprecedented scale. Over the last year, at the time of this writing, we have seen cities in Ukraine torn apart by a Russian army using up to ten thousand missiles coupled with massive artillery bombardments. Hezbollah possesses 150,000 or more rockets capable of carrying payloads, often equal to or more than the systems Russia employs! Iran’s proxies have thousands, if not more. It is without doubt within Hezbollah’s present capabilities, coupled with Iran’s influence over its other proxies to add their firepower, to inflict such havoc on Israeli society that its impact is unknowable. It would certainly destroy the vibrancy and could easily destroy the viability of the Jewish State. As such, the risk Israel faces in a future war with Hezbollah is immense. As is the challenge to minimize it.

How could this be?

The common perception is that Israel has the most powerful army in the Middle East. And that is true. But well-placed blows can fell the most powerful. Ask Goliath about his confrontation with David. Or the many healthy people that succumbed to one of the smallest living organisms—the COVID virus—that replicates and multiplies until it kills its victim.

A nation’s power is in large part based on the will of its people. If that will should be broken, the sinews that bind its citizens loosen. What was hard becomes soft. What was resolute becomes hesitant. When confidence dissipates and fear dominates, it is a recipe for a nation’s dissolution. That is what Iran hopes to accomplish as part of its long-lasting campaign against Israel. Hezbollah is one of Iran’s most important tools for making that happen. It is what Hezbollah has prepared for and what Iran paid for.

This book is based on more than thirty interviews I conducted in Israel and the United States, extensive research, and my knowledge of northern Israel gained by walking the land, meeting its people, and my involvement with Alma, a research and education center specializing in Israel’s security challenges along its northern borders. It is composed of four parts: How Hezbollah came to be; the threat Hezbollah and other Iranian proxy armies pose today; Israel’s response; and a call to action regarding how Israel may choose to meet the threat in the future and suggested actions available for concerned readers who wish to weigh in against the rising threat Hezbollah poses. Combined, these sections shine a bright light on the growing darkness.

If you are interested in reading more about this vital topic, please consider purchasing the book on Amazon.

Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End

I am excited to announce that my new book, Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End, is now available on Amazon in eBook and hardback format. I hope you will consider purchasing it, letting others know about it, and providing a review on Amazon if you think it worthy. The more that do so, the higher it will go in the rankings and fulfill my purpose of informing as many as possible of the danger Hezbollah presents to Israel. To read an excerpt from the introduction, click here.

Because I consider it vital for Israel’s future security that more people become knowledgeable about Hezbollah’s perfidy before the inevitable future confrontation that I feel is likely to come, I wrote this book.

Here is what three experts I interviewed think about the book and a short description of it.

Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah is a “terrific read, insightful and interesting. A worthwhile addition to the much-needed discussion on the threat Iran poses and the price Lebanon and the region have paid.”
— Erez D. Maisel, Brigadier General (IDF Military Reserve)

A comprehensive yet highly readable account of the Hezbollah threat to Israel’s security. Critical reading for all those to whom Israel’s security is precious—and who want to do something about it.
— Prof. Chuck Freilich, former deputy national security advisor, Israel, and author of Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change.

A fierce battle looms between the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and the state of Israel. While past wars have been grueling, the next one promises to be far more painful—for both sides. Lurking behind all of this is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, which has worked overtime for the last several decades to hasten the demise of the Jewish state.Drawing upon countless hours of interviews with Israeli officials and top analysts, author Clifford Sobin’s book draws out the contours of this looming battle in great detail.
— Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

The book begins with a harrowing hypothetical, but all too likely, scenario that encompasses the opening moments of a war with Israel started by Hezbollah. Following that, the book explores Hezbollah’s origins, its cancerous growth, Israel’s response, and its present readiness to meet Hezbollah’s challenge. It concludes with specific recommendations for what Israel, and we, can do to ensure that Hezbollah fails.

Clifford Sobin