Hezbollah’s Threats to Israel’s North Intensify as Iran Exerts Pressure – Expert Analysis

Threats against Israel from Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in Lebanon are increasing. On Monday, December 18, there were several attacks and Israeli responses.

The larger context is that Iran is trying to pressure Israel ahead of any negotiations with Hamas over future hostage releases, and Iran hopes to improve its position in the region.

Iran knows that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in Israel and visiting the region. Iran also wants to try to shut off shipping in the Red Sea. Therefore, it uses Hezbollah to threaten Israel in the north, which Iran sees as one of the “arenas” or “fronts” to challenge Israel.

Hezbollah continues to increase attacks against Israel

IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said recently that Hezbollah has been increasing its attacks against Israel.

He noted that 80,000 Israeli civilians have been displaced since October and had to leave around 40 communities in the north. “Since Hezbollah began its attacks, the IDF has been responding by striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon,” Hagari said. He notes that Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran.

Israeli leaders have said that Hezbollah might be pushed back from the border as part of some agreement and they have threatened Hezbollah. They have also said Hezbollah should watch what has happened in Gaza and that the same can happen in Lebanon.

However, Iran is also watching what is happening in Gaza. It wants a ceasefire to protect Hamas. It has watched the UK, Germany, and France begin to move toward greater pressure on Israel regarding the Gaza conflict.

Also, the US may want Israel to move toward low-intensity conflict in Gaza. In addition, Hamas leaders have met in Turkey this week, according to reports. This indicates that Hamas is also strategizing the next step. Hamas is hosted in Qatar and backed by Iran. Turkey also backs Hamas. Russia has provided excuses for Hamas as well. This is all good news for Iran and its proxies.

On Monday, December 18, there were attacks from Hezbollah numerous times. The IDF had to use air defenses to intercept threats. Launches targeted Ya’ara in northern Israel.

IDF soldiers and aircraft struck an anti-tank missile terrorist cell in Lebanon, the IDF said. Numerous launches from Lebanon occurred in the afternoon. There was also a drone threat. Sirens also sounded in Yiftah, Avivim, and Shlomi in the afternoon. IDF artillery responded to the threats.

The new challenge in Israel’s North

However, the overall picture now is that there are more attacks and sirens in the north than as a result of Hamas rocket fire. This presents a serious new challenge. IDF reservist soldier Warrant Officer (res.) Yehezkel Azaria, 53, was killed by a Hezbollah drone that struck near Margaliot on Saturday.

He was a member of the 8th armored brigade, a reserve brigade stationed along the northern border. The soldiers were from the Alexandroni Brigade’s 6609th Reconnaissance Battalion. These are two units the ‘Post’ recently spent time with during training that was profiled in our weekend magazine.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in this handout picture released on December 18, 2023. (credit: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS)

The men had described the difficulties they faced along the border at the time. The attack by the drone represents how deadly Hezbollah drones have become. This is a clear and present danger along the border.

There was also a recent attack on Kibbutz Sasa. The northern front is now simmering and Iran is clearly seeking to operationalize Hezbollah threats.

Al-Mayadeen media also said Monday that Hezbollah had attempted to target Iron Dome batteries in the north. This article also indicates how Hezbollah is seeking to escalate.