Iranian threat to Israel escalates on the northern border

Hezbollah is backed by Iran, armed with an extensive rocket, missile and drone arsenal, and has a large, trained fighting force many times larger than Hamas terrorists.

The damage after a rocket fired from Hezbollah in Lebanon hit a building in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on Feb. 11, 2024. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
The damage after a rocket fired from Hezbollah in Lebanon hit a building in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on Feb. 11, 2024. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.

Communities in northern Israel are virtually ghost towns, while the world’s attention is focused on the war in Gaza. Those towns in the north mirror the villages near Gaza that were decimated and evacuated on Oct. 7. The Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah has fired hundreds of lethal rockets at Israeli civilians and soldiers in solidarity with Hamas. These heavily-armed and well-funded terrorists are primarily viewed as an existential threat to Israel, but they also have killed hundreds of Americans across the Middle East, while raising funds in America with plans to carry out future attacks in the United States. This serves Iran’s ideology of attacking “Big Satan” and “Little Satan,” America and Israel.

Most Hezbollah rocket, missile and drone strikes intentionally target Israel’s northern cities; 16 Israeli civilians and soldiers have been killed since Oct. 7. A barrage of 60 Katyusha rockets fired on Feb. 26 forced Israelis to run for safety. These deadly attacks and threats of escalation forced Israel’s government to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians from cities, towns and villages along its border with Lebanon.

Israelis living in the north represent the country’s religious and ethnic diversity: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Bedouins and Druze. Arab al-Aramshe is a Bedouin Arab village situated right on the northern border. During the war Hezbollah launched against Israel in 2006, a terrorist bomb fell in the garden of a family home, killing a Bedouin mother and her two daughters. Current resident Ali Mohamid, 68, who was evacuated in the current war, stressed to The New York Times that rockets “don’t discriminate between the blood of Arabs and the blood of Jews.”

Hezbollah recently launched a rocket barrage against the largest border city in northern Israel where one rocket smashed through the wall of a local mall. Ricky Hadad, a refugee mother of seven, attempted to move back permanently despite the evacuation orders: “I’m too scared, the rockets freak me out, and I can’t sleep. On some nights, I ended up calling one of my children in panic to come get me out of here. So I’m returning to the hotel in Tel Aviv even though being there depresses me. I’m climbing up the walls.”

Hezbollah presents a far greater threat to Israel than Hamas. Iran has supplied it with a stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel, many capable of striking anywhere in the country. These missiles have more destructive power, better technology and can reach farther than the low-grade rockets fired by Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah also has built a vast tunnel network far more sophisticated than Hamas. Israel’s army, air force and navy have carried out drills in preparation for a wider-scale war with Hezbollah. The Israeli Defense Forces have responded to the attacks against Israelis by striking Hezbollah, Syrian and Iranian targets in Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah Poses a Direct Threat to America

U.S. intelligence officials recently warned that Hezbollah is capable of attacking the American homeland. The news report, published in Politico, describes Hezbollah’s “expansive international network of operatives that could carry out an attack in the U.S.” A 2022 security review of Hezbollah-affiliated activity in America revealed that more than 100 individuals have been sentenced for providing support, mainly in money laundering and smuggling of goods.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested two trained Hezbollah agents in America in 2017 after they carried out surveillance of potential targets. A former U.S. Department of Defense official recently stated: “We should expect Iran-backed attacks on U.S. soldiers to resume, mostly because we know that Iran continues to arm, fund and train these groups.”

Hezbollah attacked American citizens in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63, including 17 Americans; the U.S. Marine barracks bombing in October 1983 which killed 241 American and 58 French servicemen; the bombing of the U.S. embassy annex in Beirut in 1984 that killed 24; the hijacking of TWA 847 in 1985 in which a Navy diver was shot in the head and his body dumped on the tarmac; and the Khobar Towers housing attack in Saudi Arabia in 1996 that killed 19 U.S. airmen. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has an interactive timeline of Hezbollah’s worldwide operations.

Map of Hezbollah Activities in the United States
A map of Hezbollah activities in the United States. Credit: Courtesy.

Iran Arms, Trains and Funds Hezbollah

The 1979 Iranian Revolution transformed a secular country into the Islamic Republic of Iran. After the revolution, Iran aligned itself with groups sharing its ideology. Lebanon, with a government weakened by years of civil war, became an easy target for Iran to prop up the fledgling Hezbollah. With its large Shi’ite population and proximity to Israel, it was a natural target for Iranian influence. Most Muslims are Sunni; Iranians are a notable exception. The ensuing radicalization of Lebanon also transformed the country, including the fleeing of much of its Christian population.

Hezbollah—literally the “Party of God”—is a Shi’ite Islamist terrorist organization. Its name was chosen by Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. It was founded in the 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War, initially to fight against the IDF in Southern Lebanon. This region was a launching pad for attacks against Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization terrorist group, led by Yasser Arafat. The IDF entered Lebanon in “Operation Peace for the Galilee” to target the PLO and end attacks that had killed Israelis. Israeli forces remained until a unilateral withdrawal in the summer of 2000.

Hezbollah launched a cross-border attack in 2006, capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing three others. This assault led to the month-long Second Lebanon War. Hezbollah fired about 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, more than 100 per day. Following the end of the war, Hezbollah continued to increase its rocket arsenal with deadlier, long-range weapons, most supplied by Iran. The terror group also fights alongside the Syrian government and other Iran-backed groups in the Syrian Civil War. Syria borders Israel.

Iran-backed Hezbollah also has significant terrorist and financial operations in South America. Hezbollah carried out the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center, as directed by Iran. A suicide bomber drove a van loaded with 600 pounds of fertilizer and oil into the Jewish hub in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds. A day after the attack, a suicide attacker detonated a bomb on a Panamanian plane that killed all 21 passengers, including 12 Jews. Hezbollah also carried out a bus bombing in Bulgaria, which killed six Israelis in 2012, including a pregnant mother.

Reagans Honor Victims of US Embassy Bombing in Beirut
U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan honor the victims of the 1983 U.S. embassy bombing in Beirut, Lebanon; and (below) the aftermath of the Khobar Towers housing complex bombing in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, near the national oil company headquarters of Dhahran and nearby King Abdulaziz Air Base on June 25, 1996. Credit: Courtesy.

Points to consider:

  1. Hezbollah is an existential threat to Israel’s security.

Hezbollah is backed by Iran, armed with an extensive rocket, missile and drone arsenal, and has a large, trained fighting force many times larger than Hamas terrorists. Hezbollah terrorists have the capability to launch rocket attacks, conduct cross-border raids and engage in terrorist activities against Israel from southern Lebanon far more destructive than the surprise attack of Oct. 7 from Gaza. Its more than 100,000 rockets are capable of reaching every major Israeli city. Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has increased its operational experience and magnified its threat. It has links to other regional terrorist groups—notably, Hamas. Hezbollah’s aggressive posture and advanced weaponry make it a formidable adversary for Israel, requiring constant vigilance and robust defense measures.

  1. Israelis cannot live in peace under the threat of rocket attacks.

Hezbollah has launched numerous attacks against Israel in the past, resulting in civilian casualties and widespread fear. The prospect of sudden rocket fire, with little warning, creates a constant sense of vulnerability and insecurity among Israelis living near the border with Lebanon. It disrupts daily life, limits economic opportunities and has a profound psychological impact on individuals and communities. To truly achieve peace, this threat must be addressed and neutralized, ensuring the safety and security of all Israelis and their Lebanese neighbors.

  1. Iran is an international terrorist mastermind.

Iran finances, trains and arms numerous regional terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthis in Yemen, the latter of which have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea. Iran leverages these proxy groups to advance its own interests and challenge its adversaries, notably Israel and America. Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism also is a major concern for regional stability and security in the Middle East, as it fuels conflict and undermines efforts to promote peace. The Abraham Accords were launched, in large part, to form an alliance between Israel and its Arab partners against Iranian aggression.

  1. Hezbollah and Iran are a threat to America.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has an extensive global network and a history of terrorist activities against Americans and Jews worldwide. Hezbollah and Iran leverage their network of deadly resources to carry out attacks against American targets both at home and abroad. As a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran provides financial, logistical and ideological support to Hezbollah. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and aggressive rhetoric towards America increase the potential for conflict. The United States must remain vigilant and work with its close allies, including Israel, to counter the ominous threat posed by Hezbollah and Iran.

Read more here

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.
About & contact The Publisher
The Focus Project is a consensus initiative of major American Jewish organizations that provides crucial news, talking points and background content about issues affecting Israel and the Jewish people, including antisemitism, anti-Zionism and relevant events in the Middle East. Click here to receive weekly Talking Points from The Focus Project.
Releases published on the JNS Wire are communicated and paid for by third parties. Jewish News Syndicate, and any of its distribution partners, take zero responsibility for the accuracy of any content published in any press release. All the statements, opinions, figures in text or multimedia including photos or videos included in each release are presented solely by the sponsoring organization, and in no way reflect the views or recommendation of Jewish News Syndicate or any of its partners. If you believe any of the content in a release published on JNS Wire is offensive or abusive, please report a release.
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates