Yossi Missri

Hezbollah has been pushed to the corner – what’s next?

On October 7, Hamas launched a deadly terrorist attack on the State of Israel. The terrorist attack caught the State of Israel off guard and sent the public into a profound shock. One of the architects of this murderous terrorist attack was Saleh al-Arouri.

Al-Arouri was killed yesterday in   district in Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. He was eliminated along with other senior Hamas officials in the organization’s offices – which indicates their sense of security in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the stronghold of Hezbollah.

The elimination of al-Arouri is undoubtedly the most significant elimination since the outbreak of the “Iron Swords” war. His assassination is substantial not only due to the fact that he was a senior Hamas official but also because of the location and timing of the assassination. First, the Dahiyeh district in the southern part of Beirut is a Hezbollah stronghold. As I recall, the quarter was a significant attack target in the Second Lebanon War. Since then, a balance of deterrence has been created between Israel and Hezbollah, and Israel is less likely to attack the territory of Lebanon in general and the Dahiyeh district in particular. The elimination of a senior Hamas official, who is under the protection of Hezbollah on his “home turf,” is undoubtedly a step up on the part of Israel and a clear statement of intent – you are not safe anywhere.

As fate would have it, on the day of the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, came out of his bunker in the Dahiyeh district to visit mourners in Baalbek during the war with Israel to convey his sense of security, especially during war. In addition to this, Nasrallah was expected to give a speech on Wednesday 03.01 in memory of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general who was killed by the US. As expected, the speech was canceled, and a headache replaced Nasrallah’s sense of security – where do we go from here?

Since 07.10, the State of Israel and Hezbollah have been at war. The residents of the north and settlements near the fence were evacuated and became refugees in their own country. Israel, on the other hand, is containing the event and is waging a war with Hezbollah at a relatively low intensity, but its hourglass is running out. Hezbollah understands this – a step up for them will most likely lead to an all-out war.

Despite its statements and readiness for war, the organization’s interest is not to enter into an all-out campaign. The organization’s primary goal is to deter Israel from attacking Iran directly. An all-out war will lead to enormous destruction in the Israeli homeland but also to the end of the Iranian project in Lebanon. The “ring of fire” built by Soleimani around Israel can fall apart: Israel strikes Hamas, the Americans lead a coalition against the Houthis, and a war between Israel and Hezbollah will damage the third and most decisive side of the “ring of fire.” It is essential to add to this the national consideration – despite being a Shia terrorist organization subordinate to Iran, Hezbollah sees itself as a Lebanese organization. An all-out war with Israel would lead to unprecedented destruction in Lebanon.

Despite the severe damage to the sense of security and the elimination of a senior member of the “Axis of Resistance,” Hezbollah will try to find a way to take revenge on Israel without entering into an all-out campaign. We remember many speeches of Nasrallah in which he promised to maintain the equation with Israel. In practice, the organization’s interest stood above any address or promise. Hezbollah knew how to contain the elimination of senior officials without going to war with Israel. Remember well the assassination of Samir Kuntar, on whom Nasrallah promised to take revenge anytime and anywhere.

A significant course of action worth paying attention to is a terrorist attack that is not on Israeli soil. In the early 1990s, she killed the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Abbas Mousavi, on his way to the mosque on Friday. Hezbollah’s revenge was a deadly attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. Hezbollah may take this course of action to maintain a balance of deterrence against Israel but, on the other hand, not to go to war.​

About the Author
Yossi Missri is a correspondent for Channel 13 - Foreign Desk, majoring in Law and Strategy, Diplomacy Government, Reichman University. Podcast: "Around the globe in 40 mins".