Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has conspicuously decided to back away from supporting Hamas in its war against Israel.
On Monday, Hezbollah operatives rejected Hamas demands for assistance and mocked Hamas leaders for living comfortably in Qatar while the people of Gaza suffer.
The subject of Hezbollah’s contempt was former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, who urged Hezbollah to “make history” by invading across Israel’s northern border. Mashal complained that the few desultory missile strikes launched by Hezbollah are “not enough” to stop Israel from crushing Hamas with its ground invasion.
Hezbollah fired a few rocket volleys from Lebanon at northern Israel over the weekend. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) intercepted many of these rockets, then responded with targeted artillery strikes against Hezbollah assets.
The IDF dismissed the damage from Hezbollah’s rockets as minimal, while Hezbollah acted as though Israel’s response was anything but minimal. Whatever Israeli artillery blew up on Sunday, it was apparently not something Hezbollah can easily replace.
Hezbollah, like other Iranian proxy forces, has misspent a great deal of Lebanon’s treasury on building up an arsenal. It has the capability to shower Israel with large numbers of cheap, unguided rockets that would be difficult for Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system to completely intercept, but so far Hezbollah has hesitated to take that escalatory step.
When Hamas mouthpieces like Mashal complained that Hezbollah was not doing enough, the Lebanese terrorist organization and political party essentially invited them to climb into the ring with the IDF instead of catcalling from their luxury box seats in Qatar.
Israel’s Ynet News on Monday quoted Hezbollah-aligned writers and politicians in Lebanon, dismissing Mashal as “a man staying in a five-star hotel” in Qatar whose input was “unwelcome.”
“Khalid Mashal has no positive influence on our Shiite environment, particularly after what happened in Syria,” growled journalist Faysal Abd al-Sattar, bringing up some hard feelings from the Syrian civil war, in which Hezbollah firmly supported dictator Bashar Assad while Hamas backed rebel jihadi groups. Hamas was angry with Assad for cracking down too hard on dissident groups and felt the “Arab Spring” might be a good time to trade him in for a more Islamist dictator.
“Khaled Mashal meddled in the Arab Spring, the destructive spring that aimed to weaken the Arab world. If Mashal has 30 billion dollars to offer, then perhaps we can consider going to war,” hooted Lebanese politician and Hezbollah ally Wiam Wahab.
Some of Mashal’s Lebanese critics invited him to cowboy up and head for the Lebanon-Israel border to prove he is not just a loudmouth ordering room service in a Qatari hotel suite. As Ynet observed, some of this reaction could be attributed to bad blood from the Syria conflict, but some of it seems to be Hezbollah’s way of saying that it is tired of Hamas pestering it to commit more fully to war in Gaza.
On Monday, a source “familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking” told Reuters that the Lebanese organization has decided to make “arrangements to reduce the number of martyrs” it has incurred against Israeli forces. One of those arrangements apparently involves falling back from the border and hunkering down behind anti-aircraft weapons.
Reuters reported that Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver a speech on Friday in which he may reveal more about his gang’s willingness to wage “all-out war” against the Israelis. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made it clear at a briefing on Tuesday that the IDF will leave Hezbollah alone, provided it stays out of the fight.
Nasrallah met with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Lebanon last Wednesday, producing a joint communique in which the three terrorist organizations vowed to win “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” by halting Israel’s “treacherous and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people in Gaza and the West Bank.”
To date, Hezbollah has done little to help win that “victory,” and Iran’s other terrorist proxies have underperformed as well. Iran-controlled Shiite militias in Iraq have launched over two dozen rocket and drone attacks against bases housing U.S. personnel, but they have inflicted only minimal damage and minor casualties.
The Iran-backed Houthi insurgents of Yemen declared war against Israel on Tuesday and claimed they launched a “large number of ballistic and cruise missiles” against Israeli targets, along with some drone strikes. The Houthis said their attacks were a gift to their “oppressed brothers in Palestine.”
The IDF said on Tuesday said the total barrage from the Houthis consisted of one ballistic missile and two drones, all of which were shot down by the Israeli military. The ballistic missile aimed at the Israeli city of Eilat was reportedly taken down by Israel’s new Arrow long-range interceptor system in its first operational use.
“All the threats were intercepted outside the territory of the State of Israel. No intrusion into Israeli territory was detected,” the IDF said.