Hizballah’s Next War Will Be Waged in the Court of Public Opinion

In its widely predicted next war with Israel, Hizballah’s primary tactic will involve overwhelming the IDF’s defenses with tens of thousands of advanced missiles, aimed mainly at civilians. At the same time, its larger strategy will be one of informational warfare; that is, portraying the Jewish state’s response to its planned aggression as a series of brutal violations of international law. Michael Hostage and Geoffrey Corn, two retired American officers who just supervised an in-depth study on the subject, write:

Hizballah’s intentional emplacement of rockets, missiles, and other vital military assets in villages and cities throughout Lebanon will increase risks to innocent civilians. To gain strategic advantage, Hizballah will exploit the common—but erroneous—assumption that Israel, by virtue of attacking these sites, must be acting unlawfully, even when the unfortunate effects of these attacks are rendered unavoidable by Hizballah’s deliberate and illegal use of human shields.

This dilemma for Israel is further complicated by our expectation that the IDF will be compelled to undertake large-scale, aggressive operations to neutralize as much of Hizballah’s rocket threat as possible before it is ever employed.

This will include ground operations deep into Lebanon. In addition to their sheer scale, the nature of such operations in towns and villages will magnify the likelihood of collateral damage and civilian casualties. This will also make it much more difficult for the IDF to utilize the extensive and often innovative measures to mitigate risks to civilians that have been commonplace during more limited operations—for example, warnings [that provide] civilians time to evacuate before an attack. . . .

[T]he IDF [is] fully committed to compliance with the laws of armed conflict. . . . We worry, however, that the nature of a major combined-arms operation will contribute to the operational and legal misperceptions that are so adeptly exploited by enemies like Hizballah, resulting in false condemnation of Israel from the international public, the media, and many governments.

Read more at RealClear Defense

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war

 

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion