3 layer analysis of the Hezbollah attack

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Hezbollah – Action in three main Focal points in light of the drone attacks in Beirut

On September 1st at 16:05, Hezbollah fired a number of Kornet missiles (a Russian anti-tank missile which is considered to be the best of its kind today) from the Maroun El Ras village in southern Lebanon at an IDF vehicle near the Avivim settlement on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Hezbollah’s response came about a week after the attack on the missile accuracy component (according to foreign media reports) carried out by drones in the dahiyeh neighborhood in Beirut (08/25/19). Hezbollah, which attributes the attack to Israel, concentrated its efforts on three major centers of action:

The first, the visible – the perception war- Hezbollah attempted to wear Israel down by attrition using psychological and information warfare as a precursor to their retaliatory attack, and subsequently to glorify their organization and its reaction;

The second- the secret focus – was about readiness and preparedness for an operative response that occurred on 09/01/19 and which may also be about a further response.

And the third focus – engaging in a secret investigation to uncover the details of the drone operation in Beirut and to publish the results.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/PQ20ZuVNQrY”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Perception War – Hezbollah ran  a widespread preliminary perception campaign – psychological warfare and information warfare – aimed at weakening Israel before the organization’s response.  Using  reports from Hezbollah-affiliated media and journalists, they tried to influence  Israeli public opinion and to cause fear and uncertainty. At the same time, efforts were made using information warfare against the IDF, mainly to divert the attention of Israeli intelligence and their operational preparedness through attrition and the restriction of the military traffic (prohibiting the movement of troops and soldiers in certain areas).

In the days before the organization’s response, we noticed a series of reports by both Al-Manar correspondent Ali Shoeib ​​and Al-Mayadeen correspondent  Ali-Martha, according to which the Israeli area near the border, an area in which the IDF is supposed to protect the nearby Israeli settlements, had in fact become a ghost town.
An Al-Manar correspondent even mocked various deceptive actions carried out by the IDF using dummies, calling it total stupidity that would result in many losses to the IDF.

An Al- Mayadeen correspondent approached the border fence, crossed several barbed-wire fences, and in a live broadcast claimed that he was in fact in Israel’s territory …

In addition, we identified quite a few reports dealing with the expected response date, or more accurately, when the response would not take place. In our estimation, these reports were all intended to disguise and mislead the organization’s chosen date for execution (09/01/19).

Nasrallah himself was personally involved in this activity and often delivers intimidation speeches, in which he speaks directly to Israeli public opinion, creating ambiguity and uncertainty, which in his opinion heightens confusion among the civilian population in Israel (the latest example being his speech on 08/31/19).

It is important to emphasize that the perception war was not only directed toward Israel, but also to Lebanon itself, and one of its key goals was to create with the Lebanese leadership (Lebanese President, Lebanese Prime Minister, etc.), understanding and recognition that Hezbollah has full legitimacy to respond against Israel. Evidently it worked, as Lebanese President Michel Aoun publicly declared that “the act of the drone attacks is a declaration of war on Lebanon …”

In reality, Hezbollah did not fail to execute the response, but failed in terms of outcome – Hezbollah was not able to target soldiers as planned and caused only minor damage to property (damage to a military vehicle).

In light of the meager results of the response, Hezbollah’s later perception effort was given top priority and all relevant organizational resources were mobilized as part of the perception effort to glorify the action and to show how successful it was.

A review of Lebanon’s social networks, Hezbollah’s media outlets and statements by senior members of the organization, reveals an attempt has been made to show the euphoria and happiness on the Lebanese side of the border in the face of the fear and panic prevailing in Israel in response to the attack. In addition, Hezbollah is striving to prove its precise and deadly response hit military vehicles and soldiers redefining the equation of deterrence it claims was created following the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Throughout the years, and in fact since its inception in the 1980s, Hezbollah has frequently incorporated a perception effort – psychological warfare and information warfare – and has successfully perfected this effort to achieve maximum effect (from their point of view) in order to undermine the self-confidence of Israeli citizens and the IDF on one hand and glorify its actions, with a focus on the confrontation with Israel, on the other.

In our opinion, in the present case, the IDF managed to expose Hezbollah’s perception effort and the fact that Hezbollah is lying about the results and the success of the response.

In fact, Hezbollah achieved the opposite effect of what it planned and strengthened Israeli resilience, as Hezbollah was embarrassed and its publications shown to be false.

The Response – The Hezbollah military units engaged in operative planning of the response operation in a totally secretive manner.
Nasrallah in his speech of 08/31/19  declared “that the response to the attack is a fact and the exact response is a secret that only a few military commanders of the organization know”.
Both Nasrallah’s outspoken statements and public opinion among the organization’s support group did not allow for a lack of response from the organization.
The question is whether the organization’s response met their expectations in terms of time, place and method.
In our estimation, the answer to all of these is negative and Hezbollah actually compromised on all three parameters and was “forced” to take an “obvious” response in the form of an anti-tank missile attack.

The economic and political situation of the organization today is not as it was. Its size and institutionalization as an organized military and political organization are working against it.

The organization cannot afford to operate today as it used to when it was a small, flexible guerrilla organization with almost no restrictions. Hezbollah faces serious economic difficulties that result from a large decline in Iran’s economic aid – which has an important influence on its calculations whether to wage a war against Israel.

In addition, the organization knows that authentic local public opinion (not the one voiced in front of the cameras) does not support a war against Israel with economic consequences and infrastructure destruction in Lebanon.
A good example of this can be seen in the report by the Al-Madan newspaper (an independent newspaper) from 08/31/19 which describes a case of a Shiite resident from southern Lebanon who praised Hezbollah’s heroism in front of the camera, but after asking the reporter to turn off the camera, burst into tears and began to scold Hezbollah and Nasrallah …
This dissonance forces Hezbollah to appease public opinion outwardly, but at the same time avoid moves that would cause serious harm to the population.
In our estimation, the ideal response for Hezbollah would be to take an “eye for an eye” action, using aerial capabilities: an explosive drone aimed at a military or strategic target (e.g., a weapon storage site). Israel hit a weapons storage site and Hezbollah can also hit a weapon storage site by similar means from the air.
However, the desire to deal with public opinion at home and to protect its status as an organization that maintains deterrence versus Israel caused the organization to rush to take action in the “regular” way using anti-tank missile fire instead of waiting for the right opportunity for the “ideal” action as described above. The usual kind of action is entirely within the “game” vis-à-vis Israel and would probably not escalate to war.
It is possible that for Hezbollah the response is not over and, in fact, part two is on its way.

This assessment is based on the fact that, in terms of the organization, Israel damaged it not only in the drone operation in Beirut, but also the day before (08/24/19), when an attack attempted by a squad of two Hezbollah operatives in Syria was thwarted.
After Hezbollah’s missile attack on 09/01/19, an official statement was issued stating that the squad that carried out the shooting was named after the two activists assassinated in Syria on 08/24/19.

This leads us to believe  that the reaction was actually about the elimination of the two activists in Syria and not the drone attacks in Beirut, which means the score has not been settled yet.
Hezbollah’s expected next step could be planning an ideal action like the one described above, or alternatively, attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets worldwide. For example, the attack in Bulgaria on 07/18/12 in which a suicide bomber exploded on an Israeli tourist bus near the airport in the city of Burgas killed 7 Israelis.

The one who will ultimately decide on the sequel, direct and schedule it, if at all, is Nasrallah himself after Iranian approval.

Hezbollah’s investigation of the drone operation is being carried out by Hezbollah’s security unit searching for conclusive evidence of the perpetrators (both the sender responsible and the actual perpetrator), the logistic support team, the method and so on.

Such a security unit, like all similar security units in any other organization or country, would be highly motivated to reveal the details of the operation, a motivation that is caused by the sense of infiltration of the organization and the success of the opponent.
The nature of the investigation is usually covert and uses various methods (technological means, human sources, etc.), but from time to time and according to the needs of the investigation, the investigator initiates overt reports, real or fake, sometimes even contradictory, in order to try to release new information to the civilian population or by causing the other side to make mistakes and reveal more details about the event.
For example, a report in the Lebanon Debate of 08/29/19, quoting a “knowledgeable” source which stated that the drone launching was carried out from Lebanese territory and not from the sea, on the basis of the technical ability of the drones, with emphasis on the fact that they cannot be controlled beyond the range of 10 km.  According to the source, the drones were reportedly launched from a high spot overlooking the site of the blast and that the launch may have been from the hills east of  Beirut.
On the other hand, the Al-Manar channel posted on 08/30/19 that the drones had been dispatched from Israeli boats.

The MTV channel reported on 08/29/19 that Hezbollah operatives were carrying out raids and arrests in order to reach the perpetrators of the attack.

In our estimation, such publications and the disinformation they produce  causes uncertainty and confusion for the perpetrators assuming they are still on Lebanese soil.
We believe that the security unit will continue to investigate until it reveals most of the details to create a full intelligence assessment of the operation.

In the event that they come to satisfactory results and conclusions, we estimate that Hezbollah will publicly publish the results of the investigation and use them to its advantage while conducting manipulations, as part of the continuing perception war and perhaps as a reason for further response against Israel after “proving” that it is behind the drone attacks.

Now we enter a new era on the Israeli Lebanese border. After 13 years that Hezbollah initiated terrorist attacks in the north only from disputed areas of the blue line such as the Shebaa Farms. Now Hezbollah set a precedent by attacking from an undisputed point on the border and affectively opened the threat to attack from any point they choose. From the Israeli point of view this means that Hezbollah’s retaliation can come from anywhere in Lebanon and the relatively quiet 13 year period might not stay that way much longer.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up to stay current on Israel’s border conflict.
Skip to content