How Hizballah Uses the Internet to Promote Palestinian Terror

In recent years, Hizballah has focused its energy on quashing rebel forces in Syria and building up its arsenal along Israel’s northern borders while refraining from direct attacks on the Jewish state. Instead, it has used social media to recruit West Bank Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs to carry out acts of terror, providing these individuals with funding and coordination. Michael Shkolnik and Alexander Corbeil explain:

Hizballah operatives [often] use Facebook groups to establish contact with an individual. After a nascent relationship is forged, the Hizballah operatives usually communicate with the prospective recruit via email and send instructions on how to use encrypted communications platforms. . . . For example, Hizballah operatives . . . sent Muhammad Zaghloul [of the West Bank city of Tulkarm] requests for information on IDF bases and instructions on how to carry out suicide bombings. Not all suggestions flowed top-down: . . . Zaghloul initially proposed killing a specific Israeli soldier to his handler after providing the officer’s picture and personal information.

[Most] of the plots’ objectives involved conducting suicide bombings or shooting and bombing attacks, or combinations thereof, against IDF patrols in the West Bank. [One] cell, however, was plotting to carry out a suicide bombing against an Israeli bus and was disrupted after its members had already started to build explosive devices. . . . In each case, significant sums of money were promised and often transferred.

Hizballah is presumably aware that operations that depend on in-person recruitment and training are time-consuming, costly, and rarely bear fruit. Contacting, inciting, funding, and directing self-selecting operatives reduces these associated costs, avoids exposing Hizballah members to capture in foreign jurisdictions, and skirts the complex logistics of smuggling operatives into Israel or the West Bank.

A recent uptick in deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks (August-September 2019), one of which involved a sophisticated remotely detonated explosive device, may give Hizballah new opportunities to exploit heightened tensions in the West Bank. Even unsuccessful attacks cost Israeli authorities time and manpower.

Read more at CTC Sentinel

More about: Hizballah, Internet, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship