Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:
In a comprehensive study entitled “The Evolution of Hezbollah’s Deterrence Strategy towards Israel”, the Institute for National Security Studies for Strategic (INSS Israel) sheds light on the complex dynamics of Hezbollah’s approach. Written by academics with extensive backgrounds in intelligence and security, the study delves into the multifaceted evolution of Hezbollah’s capabilities and goals. It highlights Israel’s ongoing efforts to understand this complicated and adaptable organisation.
As the report underlines, Israel’s quest to understand Hezbollah has a long history, often referred to as ‘Know Your Enemy’. Yet the study reveals that despite years of observation, Israel still struggles to fully understand Hezbollah’s structured irregularity and its underlying resilience and aspirations.
Hezbollah’s origins as a conventional entity have evolved into a multi-dimensional force with multiple identities. Through diligent efforts and Iranian support, the organisation has developed from a guerrilla entity into a formidable military power with conventional capabilities that seriously threaten Israel.
The study highlights Hezbollah’s transformation into a critical component of the Shia-centred ‘axis of resistance’. The report emphasises that Hezbollah is not composed exclusively of Shia adherents within this framework. Palestinian and Yemeni factions and units within Hezbollah, ‘Al-Sarayah’, have been carefully cultivated across sectarian lines. This deliberate strategy allows Hezbollah to distance itself from sectarianism and embrace a broader narrative that transcends religious divisions. Moreover, Hezbollah has fought alongside the Syrian army, which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, and the Russian military to defeat Takfiris and prevent regime change in the Levant.
While the study delves into the multifaceted evolution of Hezbollah, it navigates around the pivotal and central issue of Palestine. The common plight and kinship of Hezbollah and the Palestinian people can be traced back to the historical persecution of Shias throughout ancient Islam until after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was only with the emergence of a figure like Sayyed Musa al-Sadr and the advent of the ‘Islamic Republic’ in Iran that the Shia abandoned taqiyya (hiding one’s faith for fear of death) and openly proclaimed their faith and affiliation without fear of persecution. However, the report suggests that the usurpation of land and the plight of the Palestinians have transcended sectarian boundaries and become a more significant concern for the nation as a whole. This aspect, which the Israeli study avoids, underlines the issue’s complexity.
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