An Emboldened Hizballah Is Trying to Remake the Status Quo

March 23 2023

Two weeks ago, a terrorist—most likely working for Hizballah—managed to cross into Israel from Lebanon and plant an explosive device near Megiddo that wounded a civilian. The attack, according to Matthew Levitt, is a sign of the Iran-backed militia’s increasing willingness to challenge the tacit understanding it has had with the IDF for over a decade. Such renewed aggression can also be found in the rhetoric of the group’s leaders:

In the lead-up to the 2006 war, [Hizballah’s] Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah famously miscalculated how Israel would respond to the cross-border abduction of its soldiers. According to Israeli analysts, however, he now believes he can predict the enemy’s behavior more accurately, leading him to sharpen his rhetoric and approve a series of increasingly aggressive actions over the past three years.

Nasrallah’s willingness to risk conflict with Israel was partly driven by domestic economic and political pressures. . . . Yet he also seemed to believe that Israel was unlikely to respond in a serious way to his threats given Hizballah’s enlarged precision-missile arsenal and air-defense systems.

In addition to the bombing, this month has seen increased reports of cross-border harassment against Israelis, such as aiming laser beams at drivers and homes, setting off loud explosions on the Lebanese frontier, and pouring sewage toward Israeli towns. Hizballah has also disrupted Israeli efforts to reinforce the security barrier in several spots along the Blue Line, [which serves as the de-facto border between Lebanon and the Jewish state].

This creeping aggressiveness—coupled with Nasrallah’s sense of having deterred Israel and weakened its military posture—indicate that Hizballah will continue trying to move the goalposts.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy