Hezbollah: Its Origin, Growth, and Capability—Part One

Today, Israel has reached a decision point: will it accept the status quo with Hezbollah or will Israel force a change if diplomatic efforts fail? The eighty thousand evacuated inhabitants of the now emptied forty-two communities and one city located close to the Lebanese border, currently living in temporary shelters, will only return to their homes when it is safe to do so. Now it is not. Hezbollah’s daily firing of missiles and drones targeting civilians and military targets in the north (almost 5,000 as of April 1, 2024), along with its capability to initiate an even more deadly October 7, make it unsafe to go back. As a result, that now barren region is devoid of civilian activity and most economic pursuits are at a standstill. Farther back, Israeli citizens are at risk too. And so is Israel’s future imperiled if Hezbollah succeeds in challenging Israel’s sovereignty and use of lands that have been part of the nation since its founding in 1948.

The direct culprit is Hezbollah, behind which stands Iran.

Simply put, Hezbollah is Iran’s creation planted deeply in Lebanon—but with worldwide tentacles. It is a hybrid terrorist organization, a ruling governmental power in Lebanon, and it presents a grave threat to Israel. Led by Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah is a Shiite organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction that is funded primarily by Iran and Hezbollah’s international criminal enterprises—including in the United States. And it is powerful, resourceful, and resilient.

Therefore, since Hezbollah is likely to remain a threat to Israel for a long time to come, it is important to understand what Hezbollah is, how it grew, its track record, and what it is capable of. To do that, this article is divided into four parts. This, part one, covers the early days of Hezbollah but first takes a necessary, shallow dive into Lebanon’s history which is one of religious strife, cruelty, and dysfunction. Part two tracks Hezbollah’s growth over the following twenty years. Part three begins with the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and ends with Hezbollah’s battle and political experience through 2019. Part four describes Hezbollah’s present military assets and reviews pertinent events of the last four years, up to the summer of 2023, that were warning signs of Hezbollah’s newfound aggressiveness.

Lebanon Before Hezbollah

For centuries, the population of Lebanon has mainly consisted of four major religious groups: Christian, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Druze. In 1943, when Lebanon first became an independent nation, Christianity (mostly Maronites) was the religion that somewhere between a slight majority or largest minority of people in Lebanon identified with. They were followed by Shiites, Sunnis, and bringing up the rear with only a few percentage points of the population, the Druze. Therefore, as part of the deal the Maronites negotiated with France to gain independence, an agreement known as the National Pact was reached. The most important governmental aspects of that unwritten deal were:

  1. The President and the Commander of Lebanon’s armed forces must be a Maronite Christian.
  2. The Prime Minister must be a Sunni Muslim.
  3. The Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shiite Muslim.
  4. The ratio of Christians to all other religions in parliament must always be 6:5.

In effect, this meant that Christians would control Lebanon’s government.

For the next thirty years all went relatively well, despite some widening fissures that included:

  • A change in demography within Lebanon due to differing birth rates and emigration. Those identifying as Sunni or Shiite at some point cumulatively took over majority status from the Christians.
  • King Hussein evicted the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Jordan in the early 1970’s. As a result, many members of that Sunni terrorist organization moved to Lebanon and took control in Southern Lebanon.
  • Sunnis somewhat prospered while Shiite economic conditions stagnated or worsened. In effect Shiites became second class citizens, never loved by the Christians, and hated by the Sunnis—an enmity that began decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE due to differences over how successor leaders of the Muslims should be chosen.

Then, in April 1975, an extremely destructive and bloody Civil War broke out in Lebanon. Primarily, it was fought by the Christians against the PLO and the Sunnis, with some Druze involvement. The Shiites mostly sat it out. Not so the Syrians, whose main goal was to take control of Lebanon, but in furtherance of it flip flopped more than once as to which side it supported.

By 1979, most of the bloodshed was over, although the conflict still simmered. However, a new player was soon to exert influence in Lebanon—Iran—the most powerful Shiite state in the world. In April 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini had returned from exile to take control of Iran. He declared that Iran would now be an Islamic republic guided by Shiite religious values. And, for good measure, he spewed a virulent hatred for Israel. In 1980, Syria and Iran issued a joint communique binding both nations to friendship and bilateral support for their mutual hatred of Israel, Egypt, and the United States. Simultaneously, Ayatollah Khomeini plotted to impose his brand of Shiite ideology and revolution worldwide. Lebanon—with its mass of Shiites already connected in many ways to Iran and resentful of their inferior political, social, and economic status—was low hanging fruit. Therefore, it was not long before Iranian agents arrived to radicalize the Shiites in Lebanon. And for the next decade a struggle ensued among Shiites between those energized by Iran’s agents and a more secular Shiite organization known as AMAL.

Hezbollah—An Iranian Proxy—Is Born in 1982

No discussion of the origins of Hezbollah is complete unless it illuminates the unintentional part played by the PLO. After the PLO’s eviction from Jordan and its arrival in force in southern Lebanon in the early 1970’s, the level of terrorist activity emanating from Lebanon at the PLO’s behest increased substantially. The years between 1974 and 1982 were particularly bloody. PLO terrorists crossed the border to indiscriminately kill Israeli citizens, including children, and the PLO’s minions indiscriminately fired rockets at Israeli towns along the northern border. This is when the massacres at Ma’alot, Kiryat Shmona, Nahariyah, and the bus attack that killed thirty-eight Israelis south of Haifa occurred. So too at Misgav Am where PLO terrorists took toddlers captive. Therefore, it was no surprise when in June 1982, Israel’s government unleashed Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) on the PLO to drive the terrorist organization back from the border. By the end of August, the IDF had succeeded in pushing the PLO out of Lebanon. Nevertheless, because the operation had other goals and because of issues over whether those goals were properly disclosed to decision makers, as well as other related matters, there remains much controversy concerning the 1982 war, all of which is beyond the scope of this article.

However, what is important for this discussion, is that Iran saw an opportunity it was determined pursue.

Two days after the IDF crossed the border into Lebanon, an Iranian delegation went to Damascus to discuss providing Iranian military support for Syria and the entry of more Iranians into Lebanon. Soon 5,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members arrived in Syria. Iran had hoped to embroil them in the fight with Israel inside Lebanon. But by then the fighting had ebbed. Therefore, Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad (father of now president, Bashar al-Assad), feared that their entry would restart the fighting which had involved the Syrian army. Nevertheless, Assad allowed 1,500 of them to enter Lebanon from Syrian land. Many went to Baalbek, the largest town in the Bekaa Valley, which was predominately Shiite. Soon, they were busy traveling to throughout the region—pushing the teachings of Khomeini and building a foundation for hatred of Israel.

The converted operated at first under the name, Islamic Amal, to separate themselves from the more secular members of AMAL. As such, there is scholarly debate as to whether Hezbollah began in 1982, 1984, or 1985 when the organization officially announced itself to the world. But make no mistake, Hezbollah’s origin, if not founding, was in 1982. Iran provided the nutrients and Syria, with its border with Lebanon, the feeding tube.

If you think of Iran’s and Syria’s goals as two circles of a Venn diagram, Hezbollah occupied the middle where the two circles intersected. Syria wanted to control events in Lebanon for its own economic and hegemonial dreams and to create leverage to use against Israel in hopes of recovering the Golan heights. Iran wanted to push its ideological Shiite revolution throughout the Middle East. Both nations hated Israel. As such, Hezbollah was a perfect vehicle for furthering their nefarious causes.
By later summer of 1982, organized Shiite resistance began to confront the IDF and allied Christian forces. Meanwhile, a steady supply of weapons sent by Iran moved through Syria into the Bekaa valley into Hezbollah’s hands. At first, both the IDF and Amal failed to appreciate the danger Hezbollah presented. But it was not long before the IDF felt Hezbollah’s growing power and Amal found itself being swallowed whole.

Later in the year, Hezbollah (sometimes using the name of Islamic Jihad that was an arm of Hezbollah’s) initiated a bombing and kidnap campaign. Within a year, bombs delivered by suicide drivers struck IDF headquarters buildings, the American Embassy, and an American marine base. Hundreds of Americans and dozens of Israelis died in the blasts. In addition, Hezbollah launched an insidious kidnapping campaign that lasted years and took captive more than 100 Americans and Western Europeans. It also captured the American CIA station chief in Lebanon and years later the American chief of the UN Truce Supervision Organization—savagely torturing and then killing both. 1985 also saw Hezbollah’s hijack of TWA Flight 847, during which a Hezbollah hijacker killed an American soldier who was a passenger on the plane and tossed his body to the tarmac.

Amid all this mayhem, Hezbollah came out from the shadows. On February 16, 1985, Hezbollah revealed itself to the world at a press conference from a mosque in Lebanon and published a manifesto that its spokesperson read aloud. The document contained four major themes:

  • Hezbollah’s clear desire to obliterate Israel. It said in part, “Israel’s final departure from Lebanon is a prelude to it final obliteration from existence and the liberation of venerable Jerusalem from the talons of occupation.”
  • A demand that “Imperial Powers” must leave Lebanon—meaning the United States and France.
  • A call for Lebanon to decide its own future but a prediction that it would choose Islam. Left unsaid was how much of that prediction would be based on planned coercion.
  • A confirmation of Hezbollah’s strong allegiance to Iran and its Supreme Leader.
    This was Hezbollah’s coming-out-party. Hassan Nasrallah, now Hezbollah’s leader for the last three decades, later said, “After 1985. . .was when the popular resistance ended and organized armed resistance began.” Now, Hezbollah began its meteoric growth.

A new era had begun.

It’s Time Together We Take A Stand

Hamas cannot conquer Israel. Nor can Hezbollah. But they can destroy Israel. Not with rockets and soldiers that alone would do grievous harm—but with words, images, and video designed to weaken our support in Israel’s time of need—if together we fail to take a stand. We are six million Jews strong in the United States blessed with countless supporters willing to lend a hand. Let’s not allow Israel’s enemies to use their messaging to divide us nor permit well-meaning voices to distract us.

In this information war, liberal and progressive Jews in America are on the frontlines. Any who count yourselves among them I am sure have been assailed by friends, colleagues, and groups they associate with—through social media posts, direct interaction, and other encounters—to question or oppose Israel’s actions post October 7. Some of that messaging is vitriolic, some emotional, and some intellectual. And many of those communications contain similar themes—such as Israel brought this slaughter of its civilians on itself because of its treatment of Palestinians, comparisons to those now suffering in Gaza, purported Israeli war crimes, etc. It is all difficult to navigate and both exhausting and feeling risky to counter. That creates a desire to avoid rather than confront. I get it.

But deep-down most Jewish-Americans, Jewish liberals and progressives too, understand that what Hamas planned and accomplished is not reconcilable and not excusable and must not be ignored. Butchering mothers and decapitating babies were the undertakings of unvarnished evil. Premeditated kidnap and slaughter, along with rape and torture, were the ultimate heinous acts. Nor we all know, it is not the first time Jews have suffered such. Nor will it be the last unless together we take a stand.

That stand requires that we speak as one. All of us—right, left, and center—progressives and conservatives alike. Together we must unconditionally and without reservation condemn Hamas and all others that hunt Jews for their faith and heritage. For if together we do not, not only will Israel’s survival be imperiled, but also the survival of Jews in America and worldwide.


Because to ignore or deny the depravity of Hamas on October 7, to twist ourselves to find explanations or excuses for Hamas’s written plan which in the long term is destruction of Jewry worldwide and in the short term not a two-state solution but instead an Islamic State that would supplant Israel, is a recipe for our destruction. Hamas’ plan, as it would play out, will enhance the growth of antisemitism here and abroad. And if the antisemitism that is now on the march because of that plan’s progress is not vigorously confronted, it will overwhelm us in America. Unchecked hatred of Jews always has and always will endanger us unless we together take a stand on behalf of Jews in the diaspora and the State of Israel.

I know this is where it gets hard. We have had the privilege to live in the United States of America, the most tolerant society for Jews since ancient Israel two millennium ago and Israel today. But now, an old scourge that once seemed so far away from our safe home in America is edging closer. And an Israel that many once felt safe to criticize for its policies without imperiling its existence now lays fragile, once again encircled from all directions by powerful forces motivated by hatred empowered by our division.

That is why this is your moment. This is the moment, no matter how hard it will be, that you have an opportunity to make a difference and are desperately needed to do so: to come to Israel in its time of need; to save our people; the future for our children; and to preserve this moment in time in this cherished land where Judaism can thrive rather than suffer at the hands of our haters. It is the moment for liberal and progressive Jews to take a stand with all other Jews and all likeminded of other faiths that antisemitism in whatever form—whether on college campuses, on the streets of our cities, on social media, in the groups and with the people we associate with, and all else—will not be tolerated by us. Nor can we sit idly by in an environment where haters feel free to scrawl antisemitic slogans on schools and other public places. Nor should imposters who espouse concern for suffering be left free of scorn when they hypocritically tear down posters with pictures of those Jews that Hamas kidnapped. We must brand them what they are—haters of Jews—no different than the antisemites that have assailed us through the ages.

And this is also our moment to together take a clear unequivocal stand against the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” shouted by leftists who supposedly value human life. Those devotees that voice those words know what they are chanting. They know that October 7 was but a precursor for what would come should the river to the sea adherents fulfill their dreams—one-by-one intimate murders: one-by-one snuffing of life and dignity. Not even in mass, but one-by-one at the hands of not just a depraved few but, as on October 7, thousands driven by their bloodthirst.

Why do we need to take a stand? Why do all those on the left, Jews and non-Jews alike, urgently need to do so?

Because together, speaking in one voice, we are strong, but divided and nuanced we are weak. Our internal divisions in this time of war, justified as they may be, are used by our enemies to magnify Israel hatred which morphs into Jew hatred, which endangers all Jews in America. Endangers us at the hands of enemies on both the left and the right.

Don’t believe me?

Then why is it that parts of the left have greater outrage for Israel’s response to Hamas’ butchery than to the deaths of 1,300 Jews felled by fire, knife, and bullet? Why is it that supporters of Hamas on college campuses feel no fear but Jewish students fear for their safety? Why is it that the left focuses on castigating Israel, the state most concerned with preserving individual liberties in the Middle East despite all of Israel’s conundrums and threats to its wellbeing, while at the same time the left ignores the status of women who face widespread discrimination and restrictions at the hands of Hamas in Gaza, stays silent about Hamas’ persecution of the LGBTQ community, and does not speak out Hamas’ violent persecution of dissent let alone denial of democracy? For this willful double standard of monumental proportions there is only one answer—antisemitism. For so many on the left to articulate justification for Hamas’ acts or to blame Israel for them there is only one answer—antisemitism.

All these failures of the left are in the face of facts that are clear. Hamas never has and never will support a two-state solution. It calls all of Israel “occupied.” After the Oslo peace process accords, Hamas tried to snuff out that harbinger of hope with a deadly suicide bombing campaign that killed and wounded many in Israel. Those bombings were intended to derail the peace process, not enhance it. And after becoming the sole governing body in Gaza, two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 to allow Palestinians to govern themselves there, Hamas indiscriminately routinely fired rockets at Israel’s civilian population. It also tunneled into Israeli territory to kidnap and kill. And Hamas diverted supplies, food, and building material from the people of Gaza to support its terrorist efforts against Israel—and still does so to this day. Meanwhile it created an educational system designed to perpetuate hatred for Israel. Never, I repeat never, has Hamas ever professed a desire for lasting peace. Rather, it only embraced ceasefires following its wanton attacks so that it could grow stronger. This has been the pattern for almost two decades.

But now no more.

There can be no reconciliation with such murderous intent. No deal with an entity that cares so little for its own people but so much for its Sharia ideology. No negotiation can start with one side bargaining for its survival and the other insisting on extermination. There is no middle ground with a depraved entity that for all practical purposes is no different than ISIS or Al-Qaeda. That is something we in the western world have a hard time understanding. But there is no wishing or hoping or incentivizing that basic ideological fact away. Ever.

And there is not a middle ground here in the United States.

There will be a time if you want to question the motives of the present Israeli government’s political leaders and their path forward regarding a two-state solution but even then, question equally whether there is a partner to negotiate with. There will be a time to raise your voice should you be opposed to judicial reform, but there also is a need to inform yourself of all the issues both pro and con. There will be a time to question religious restrictions within Israel should you wish to do so, but then be sensitive to all views and sensitivities not just your own. There will be a time for all of us to weigh in on a myriad of issues that might concern us, including the failures that permitted the October 7 nightmare to happen. And I encourage you to do so, if you desire, in a reasoned and informed manner.

But not now. Not when Israel’s survival is at stake. Not when our safety in America is at risk.
Today, there is no reconciliation with Hamas’ apologists that does not imperil Jews. Imperil us from the far left and let’s not forget the far right, who are waiting in the winds to strike—enjoying the growth of their nazi-like power that is unchecked not only due to the turmoil in our politics in America but also due to our collective failure together to take a vigorous stand against antisemitism wherever it may be.

So, I ask all American Jews, especially the young, the third generation Holocaust survivors, along with those of all faiths, no matter your age, to together take a stand. This is the defining moment for your generation. It is a noble cause and a necessary one. And it is a fight that is even more yours than mine because you have a longer life to live.

But if you refrain from engaging, if you are silent now, when will you not be? They that fail to unequivocally castigate Hamas today and fail to rail loud and hard against any “on the other hand” sentiment, when so many died at the hands of Hamas’ minions, may find it one day soon too late and themselves too powerless and hesitant to lean against Jew hatred and to weigh in to ensure a haven in our country for generations to come. That is the lesson of history. Evil unchecked grows. Evil not eviscerated spreads. And the more evil is appeased, the more it faces equivocation rather than resolve, the hungrier it gets.

Israel will try to do its part. A part that will benefit all of humanity by freeing the world of the homicidal intolerance of Hamas and thereby weakening other purveyors of hatred. But we must give Israel the time and space to do so. Like a cancer, if Hamas is not rooted out in its entirety it will metastasize in Gaza and its continued existence will galvanize the efforts of Iran and its proxies to further their stated goal of destroying Israel, and in that process they collectively will take a giant step towards fulfilling one of Hamas’ core tenants, killing and vilifying Jews everywhere.

Unfortunately, however, one of the consequences of a war no matter how justified, is death. Civilians in Gaza, despite Israel’s best efforts will die. Not in the numbers Hamas’ medical and other institutions will claim, but certainly in numbers that all wishes would not be. But they will not die because of Israeli intent. They will die because of Hamas’ strategy and cowardice. Strategy because Hamas wants those deaths in high numbers and in as tragic a manner as possible to influence world opinion. Cowardice, because unlike armies that try to protect civilians, Hamas hides behind and under its people. That is why Hamas has impeded movement of the civilian population south.

So don’t be tricked by pompous, biased statements castigating Israel for violating the laws of war. The violator was and remains Hamas who intentionally targets the innocent. Those that do not say that should be isolated and vilified.

Israel’s goal to wipe out the threat of Hamas forever does not violate the laws of war. It is justifiable self-defense after suffering a heinous attack that could be repeated. Nor do those laws require ignoring a military target. They only refer to the military value of the target versus the threat to civilians. Destroying those targets does not require forbearance even if civilian casualties are foreseeable if their military value justifies their destruction. In the case of Gaza, wherever Hamas places its defenses, its command structures, its missile launchers, and the like—it is an important military target. Important for the defense of Israel’s citizenry and important to save the lives of Israel’s soldiers who will have to root around the rubble and hide holes and rabbit warren of tunnels to seek out the enemy—those IDF soldiers are children of mothers and fathers worried sick that their sons or daughter will meet their maker in defense of their nation. Isn’t their blood important too? Isn’t it the responsibility of the IDF to reduce the number of casualties it incurs? Especially, because there are no other options—not a ceasefire that will only allow Hamas to rest and reform, not a negotiation that will never bear fruit with depraved murderers intent on creating an Islamic State in all of Israel, and not a miracle—except perhaps for one—Hamas could surrender. But it will not. Because it does not care about the people it governs.

But we too must be soldiers in this war. Not by engaging in the violence that young IDF soldiers will endure. But in the information war that now envelops us.

This is your defining moment. I understand your emotional fatigue. I recognize your fears. I am cognizant of your treasured relationships that may be imperiled. To a lesser or greater degree, I too have been assailed by those same concerns.

But if ever you wanted to make a difference to ensure the survival of your people. If ever you wanted to be a shining light of courage amid a growing storm. If ever you wanted to preserve your ability to look back in decades to come with pride rather than regret, now is your moment. Use your strengths, whether on social media or in quiet moments of earnest discussion, whether by participating in demonstrations or by providing monetary support, whether by passing my plea to others through social media or by speaking out when confronted. Or by whatever means you choose. Stay informed, stay impactful, stay united.

Together, take a stand on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

This is your moment.

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

A Mapping Marvel at Tel Hai College

Check out my new article posted on Times of Israel regarding Alon Margalit and his revolutionary software system for making maps available to people around the world. Alon is in charge of the library at Tel Hai College in the upper Galilee, near the border with Lebanon. I met him in January 2020. Read more here.

A Tennis Coach in Israel and a Security Simulation

As many of you are already aware, Times of Israel recently approved me as a blogger on their site. My first blog, Using Tennis to Better the Lives of Children with Special Needs, appeared on May 17, 2020. That article sprung from an interview I conducted with Shaul Zohar in January 2020 after learning of him while researching my book, Living in Heaven, Coping with Hell.


Times of Israel published my second bog article on July 2, 2020. I titled it Simulation of a Security Crisis in Northern Israel. It is about my experience testing a Zoom virtual simulation produced by the Alma Research and Education Center in Northern Israel. Soon that simulation will be available for teaching interested groups about the unique security challenges present in Northern Israel.


There will be more to come!