What Are The Reasons for Hezbollah’s Increased Intensity of Attacks Against Israel?

By: Dana Polak Kanarik and Tal Beeri

In recent weeks, Hezbollah has increased the intensity of its attacks in response to IDF attacks in southern Lebanon. This was significantly manifested two days ago (May 5), when Hezbollah launched a response campaign due to the IDF attack in Mis al-Jabal, where according to Hezbollah, civilians were injured.

Above: the location of the attack in Miss Al-Jabal, where a Hezbollah sign reads: “Blessed are the shaheeds, mothers and children on the way to Jerusalem… and to victory.”

Hezbollah’s response (May 05) to the attack on Miss al-Jabal included 7 attacks against Israel:

1. Dozens of Falk and Grad rockets were fired at the city of Kiryat Shmona, striking more than 10 houses, vehicles, and an ambulance. In addition, infrastructure was damaged, and 3 civilians were injured.

2. Dozens of Grad rockets were fired at a military base in the Upper Galilee and the Mevo’ot Hermon area.

3. Firing an anti-tank missile at a building in the community of Avivim.

4. Firing an anti-tank missile at a building in the community of Shtula.

5. Rocket fire at the community of Kfar Yuval.

6. Rocket fire at the community of Kfar Giladi.

7. Rocket fire at the community of Margaliot.

Hezbollah’s response to the attacks on civilians in Miss al-Jabal is highly unusual and is not equivalent to its previous responses in similar cases in which civilians were harmed in southern Lebanon. It follows Hezbollah’s pattern of response in recent weeks, according to which, even in cases where civilians were not harmed, Hezbollah responded forcefully against civilian targets in Israeli territory.

On April 29-30, Hezbollah carried out several airstrikes against Israeli civilian targets, including the firing of anti-tank missiles at civilian targets in the communities of Metula, Dovev and Avivim. Hezbollah claimed these attacks were in response to IDF strikes on civilian villages in southern Lebanon, in which there were no casualties. Even earlier, on April 23, Hezbollah claimed that two Lebanese women were injured in an Israeli attack in the village of Kunin in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah responded with four airstrikes against civilian targets, including Grad rocket and anti-tank missile fire at the communities of Margaliot, Shomera, Avivim and Netua.

According to the IDF spokesperson, the strike on Mis al-Jabal targeted a military compound used by Hezbollah. As part of its operations, Hezbollah employs and operates civilian infrastructure to blend into the civilian population to use as human shields. Hezbollah stockpiles weapons in civilian structures and near population centers, and it operates and launches from these locations. Therefore, there are attacks by the IDF in civilian areas, which Hezbollah uses as a “human shield” against IDF offensive activity against it.

The increased intensity of Hezbollah’s responses could have several main reasons. First, the military operation in Rafah. Currently, the war in Gaza is at a crucial crossroads: continued fighting and the opening of a military operation in Rafah, or an agreement to release the Israeli hostages. Considering this, it is possible that the reason for the change in Hezbollah’s modus operandi is an attempt to increase the pressure on Israel and try to divert attention and resources from a military operation in Rafah.

As of this writing (May 7), a limited IDF operation has begun on the eastern outskirts of Rafah and at the Rafah crossing. IDF forces took control of dominant areas and the Rafah crossing itself.

Accordingly, the Islamic resistance in Iraq claims to have also increased the intensity of its attacks. Since the beginning of May 2024, they have claimed responsibility for 12 attacks against targets in Israel using UAVs and cruise missiles (in the past 24 hours alone, 6 claims of responsibility). Apart from the interception of two UAVs by an IAF aircraft, no other indications of these attacks were reported.

The Houthi forces in Yemen also issued an official statement threatening a new stage of escalation if an operation in Rafah begins. According to them, any shipping company involved in supplying and entering ports in Israel, of any nationality, will become the target of their attacks. The mobilization of the Shiite axis is intended to exert economic and international leverage on Israel at these crucial stages.

A second reason for Hezbollah’s increased response is the attempt to justify Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel in the internal Lebanese arena. As far as Hezbollah is concerned, its response on the IDF attacks reinforces the image of the “defender of the Lebanese people” and legitimizes its military actions. Of course, ignoring the fact that Hezbollah itself started the fighting against Israel on October 8, 2023.

Finally, another reason is that the conflict in the Gaza Strip is at a critical moment that may lead to its de facto conclusion (even if for a brief period), therefore, Hezbollah will seek a “victory image” vis-à-vis Israel in order to create a psychological-cognitive effect. Hence, the intensity of its reactions increases.

Hezbollah is taking a calculated risk. The intensity of its responses increases the potential for escalation and a flare-up for a full-fledged conflict with Israel. However, it is plausible that this is what it ultimately strives to do…

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Alma Research

Alma Research

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