Hezbollah reported that 89 of its operatives (updated December 2) had been killed since the outbreak of war on October 7, 2023. This is actually the largest confrontation on the northern border with Hezbollah since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The vast majority of the operatives were killed in southern Lebanon and it seems that a small number of them were killed in Syria.

It should be noted that during the years of the civil war in Syria and Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting there – Hezbollah lost more operatives than in the current conflict, but of course a death in a campaign against Muslims is not the same as a “shaheed” that died in the fight against the “Jews” and the “Zionist entity”. Hezbollah casualties in the current conflict are referred to as “shaheeds on the path to Jerusalem”.

According to our understanding, Hezbollah’s fatalities originate from a number of units, like the geographic units operating in southern Lebanon – Nasser and Aziz, Radwan –Hezbollah’s special unit and other operatives from auxiliary units, for example, operatives who serve as combat medics and are attached to units by Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Organization. Most of the operatives killed were junior ranking and serve as operatives of anti-tank, mortar and rocket squads. It is our assessment that most of the operatives killed did not belong to the Radwan unit.

Hezbollah‘s military units uphold a policy of confidentiality. Its military operatives make efforts to avoid public exposure of their affiliation with Hezbollah , especially in the media and on social networks.

For instance, during the extensive military gathering organized by Hezbollah in May 2023, the operatives, including those of the Radwan Force, ensured that their identities remained concealed and their features were obscured. Even now, amid ongoing hostilities that claim the lives of Hezbollah operatives daily, Hezbollah remains circumspect in disclosing much about them.  Hezbollah disseminates a form of an official poster featuring the operative’s image (occasionally extracted from personal or wedding photographs), accompanied by his name, nickname, and place of origin. If an operative is killed in the line of duty, no additional information is provided, including the location of the fatality, the name of the unit involved, or the specific cause of death.

Had it solely relied on Hezbollah (its security unit), it is likely that these particulars would not have been disclosed, thereby preserving the atmosphere of ambiguity. The Shiite clans (families) however, whose sons are killed daily, demand their honor particularly in regards to fighting Israel. The indoctrination and intensification of the culture of death and jihad within the Shiite population that supports Hezbollah, prevents Hezbollah from retaining any ambiguity. Families (clans) demand a public announcement and a public funeral. It is noteworthy that throughout the conflict in Syria, Hezbollah successfully concealed the death of a significant number of its operatives by having them buried covertly and without media attention. Not these days, because this time the enemy is the “little Satan” – Israel.

In our assessment, the publicly known number of Hezbollah operatives killed as of October 7 is correct. It appears that Hezbollah takes great care in disclosing the identities of its dead operatives, mainly because of who killed them – Israel. As far as Hezbollah is concerned, this helps preserve the narrative of the “struggle for Palestine and Jerusalem”.  Usually, the publication comes close to the incident in which the operative was killed. It is possible that in certain cases Hezbollah delays the announcement, mainly for reasons of maintaining the security of its operational activity.

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Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

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