analysisIsrael at War

Update: Operation Swords of Iron

Nasrallah: Real option of Lebanese front expanding

Israel’s victory will be a “clear message that will echo for generations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut on May 8, 2023. Credit: Mohammad Kassir/Shutterstock.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut on May 8, 2023. Credit: Mohammad Kassir/Shutterstock.
Yaakov Lappin
Yaakov Lappin
Yaakov Lappin is an Israel-based military affairs correspondent and analyst. He is the in-house analyst at the Miryam Institute; a research associate at the Alma Research and Education Center; and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is a frequent guest commentator on international television news networks, including Sky News and i24 News. Lappin is the author of Virtual Caliphate: Exposing the Islamist State on the Internet. Follow him at: www.patreon.com/yaakovlappin.

There is a “real” possibility of the Lebanese front with Israel expanding, Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, said on Friday in a lengthy televised address. His speech came a day after the Hezbollah terrorist organization launched attacks all along the Israeli border, targeting both civilians and Israel Defense Forces positions.

“The Lebanese front and the escalation in many directions depends on two things: the progress of events in Gaza and their development, and the second, the activities of Israel in Lebanon,” the Iranian-backed terror chief stated, per Maariv reporting.

“The war has already expanded to more than one front,” Nasrallah said. “We salute the armies of Iraq and Yemen that entered the heart of this blessed campaign.”

He claimed that the mass murder attack by Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7 was fully planned and implemented “by the Palestinians.”

“We have two goals before us: stopping the fighting for humanitarian reasons and achieving victory for Gaza and Hamas,” Nasrallah said. “The option that the Lebanese front will expand is very real.”

Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah has been “managing battles with Israel since Oct. 8,” and boasted that Israel “was forced to add soldiers in the north” due to Hezbollah attacks. 

“The missiles from Yemen will reach the military bases in Eilat,” he claimed.

With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visiting Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel rejects temporary ceasefires that do not include the release of hostages.

“We have made clear that we are continuing full force,” Netanyahu said. He added that Israel refuses to transfer fuel to Gaza and objects to transferring cash, all of which could end up in Hamas’s hands.

Israel’s victory will be a “clear message that will echo for generations,” Netanyahu added. “Our enemies will fail in destroying Israel. We will not give up until victory and until we reach all of the objectives we set—destroying Hamas, retrieving our hostages and restoring security to our civilians and children.”

Battles continued into Friday evening in the north, when an IDF tank struck two anti-tank missile launch posts and a military post belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanese territory adjacent to Yiftahch.

“In the north, we are in expanded operational deployment,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesman, said on Friday morning. “We hit a number of Hezbollah squads and struck after fire was launched on Kiryat Shmona and Safed. We will continue to strike. We are at very high readiness in the north, and will continue to respond to any event.”

Iran is continuing to sow destruction in the area by encouraging and arming proxies, Hagari said. He noted that Iranian arms are also being used to attack Ukraine, as they were to attack U.S. forces in Iraq. The Iranian axis is “trying to divert us from Hamas. We continue to advance,” he said. “We will know how to respond in any arena.”

As Nasrallah spoke, Esmail Qaani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, has been traveling to and from Beirut, likely controlling Hezbollah’s actions and statements.

While Israel has stated that its objective is to focus on Gaza, it will also need to prepare for the possibility that Nasrallah will expand the war.

Hezbollah’s firepower is significantly more powerful and longer in range than that of Hamas, and it is the only non-state actor in possession of that caliber of precision-guided missiles in its inventory.

Hezbollah is heavily embedded in civilian populations in south Lebanon, Beirut and the Bekaa Valley. It has more than 20,000 active members and tens of thousands of reservists, and an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets, mortars and missiles.

This includes an estimated 400 long-range missiles and rockets, hundreds of precision-guided munitions, 4,800 mid-range rockets and 65,000 short-range rockets, as well as some 140,000 mortars.

In Judea and Samaria on Friday, IDF units struck terrorists in Jenin both from the air and the ground. The IDF’s official count of hostages stands at 241 at this time, and it has notified the families of 27 fallen soldiers killed in action since the Oct. 27 ground offensive in Gaza, according to the IDF.

“IDF soldiers are encircling Gaza from the air, land and sea, surrounding Gaza City and its environment,” Hagari said on Friday. “Forces are progressing forward and destroying infrastructure over and underground.”

IDF soldiers have taken over many Hamas strongholds and recovered weapons, he added.

Israel is continuing to shed growing light on Hamas’s cynical use of Shifa hospital in Gaza, and the terror group is stealing fuel directly from the hospital, Hagari said.

The IDF released audio of a call that took place on Nov. 2nd with an official in the medical system in Gaza, in which “it was revealed again that Hamas is holding the fuel reserves in the Gaza Strip and is using it,” the Israeli military said.

“The hospital official states that Hamas’s fuel reserves of over half a million liters of fuel are under the Shifa Hospital,” the military added. “The call confirms that Hamas controls the energy and fuel resources in the Gaza Strip and chooses to direct them for terrorism. Moreover, if fuel is allowed to enter the Gaza Strip, Hamas plans to seize those resources.”

Soldiers of the elite engineering Yahalom unit, in cooperation with combat engineers from Battalion 7107, the Armored Corps, the Nahal infantry Brigade and the Negev Brigade exposed and neutralized Hamas’s terror tunnels during special operations inside the Gaza Strip, the IDF announced. 

The troops uncovered tunnel shafts, rigged them with explosives and neutralized the tunnels. In joint operations between Israeli ground troops and the Israeli Air Force, numerous terrorists who fired at Israeli troops were killed over the last few hours, the IDF said on Friday.

IDF reservist troops also identified a terrorist cell exiting a tunnel shaft and directed an aircraft to strike and thwart the terrorist cell. In an additional engagement, numerous terrorists exited a shaft located inside a residence and opened fire on IDF troops, who returned fire and killed several terrorists, the military said.

The Israeli National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry released a warning on Friday calling on Israelis to consider avoiding all non-essential overseas travel. The warning also called on Israelis to avoid displaying any outwardly visible Israeli or Jewish signs, due to the dramatic rise in antisemitism and violence worldwide.

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