Hizballah Sends a Message to the U.S. and Israel from Iran

Last week’s attack on Israeli forces near the Lebanese border was motivated not merely by revenge or deterrence, argues Tony Badran. Nor was it simply the latest round in Hizballah’s sporadic war with the Jewish state. Rather, it represented a signal to the U.S., from Tehran, regarding the Syrian civil war. Writes Badran:

The U.S. and Iran are already partners in Iraq. Now, through its Hizballah arm, Iran is positioning itself as an interlocutor with the U.S. regarding security on the border with Israel. If Washington wants to keep that border quiet, it needs to talk to Tehran. And, the way the Iranians see it, insofar as the Israelis (and the Jordanians) are U.S. allies, the White House needs to lean on them to make sure that Syrian rebels don’t approach southern Lebanon.

Hizballah is playing a dangerous game. It has already brought Lebanon to the edge. Sooner or later, it’s bound to push it over.

Read more at NOW

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Nusra Front, Syrian civil war

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas