Israel issued a warning to Hezbollah and the state of Lebanon last night, in response to a number of violent incidents attributed to the militant group at the border between Israel and Lebanon, during the latest and most devastating chapter of conflict coming from Gaza.
“We sent a very clear message to Hezbollah, and to the state of Lebanon: they will pay a devastating price if they use this opportunity to attack Israel,” said Lior Haiat, spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a briefing on Monday 9 October. “We advise them not to try us, not at this time.”
Attacks from across the Lebanon-Israel border
In comments to journalists before a meeting of the security cabinet that evening, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen made clear that they would be discussing rocket attacks from Lebanon, as well as terrorists crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel.
According the MFA spokesperson, there were a number of incidents near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. “At least one of them had direct involvement of Hezbollah, shooting rockets close to Mount Dove on the east side of the border between Israel and Lebanon.”
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“There were other incidents there. As far as I know, we cannot say directly which terror organisation directly is responsible, but,” continued Haiat, “you cannot do anything in the South of Lebanon without the authorisation of Hezbollah. Even if it’s another Palestinian terror organisation, it’s with the green light of Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran
Like Hamas, Hezbollah is understood to generate significant funding from Iran, but beyond this channel of resources, the two have very different profiles. The influence of Hamas has a restricted locality, while Hezbollah, as well as being an official terrorist organisation committed to armed resistance, acts as a political party in Lebanon that has exerted its influence over the last year by blocking new presidential elections.
Asked about the influence of Iran in the recent attacks, Major Libby Weiss, spokesperson of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) signalled that this was the view of Israel’s military services. “Historically, Iran has been a very, very strong supporter of Hamas, has provided Hamas with considerable financial support and other kinds of support.”
“Naturally we do believe that that Iran plays a role in what Hamas, and the actions of Hamas, is carrying out.”