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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Hassan Nasrallah’s Ominous Silence in Lebanon

Filed under: Hamas, Hizbullah, Operation Swords of Iron

Hassan Nasrallah’s Ominous Silence in Lebanon
Hizbullah’s Hassan Nasrallah meeting with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Salah Aruri on April 6, 2023, in Beirut. (Twitter)
  • Since the onset of the conflict in Israel’s south, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hizbullah, has maintained a conspicuous silence while conducting a war of attrition against Israel on the northern border.
  • Deciphering Hassan Nasrallah’s intentions has proven to be a challenge for Israel and the United States. Israel must prepare for the worst-case scenario in which it fights on two fronts simultaneously.
  • As Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hizbullah is supported, trained, and funded by the Ayatollah regime and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian with Hizbullah’s Secretary-
General Hassan Nasrallah.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian with Hizbullah’s Secretary-
General Hassan Nasrallah. At a press conference in Beirut on October 14, 2023,
Iran’s foreign minister called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, warning that if
Hizbullah joins the battle, Israel will suffer “a huge earthquake.”

More than two weeks have elapsed since Hamas attacked Israeli settlements near the Gaza Strip border.

During this time, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, has vanished from filmed appearances and statements.

Sources within Hizbullah assert that the organization closely monitors and actively engages in developments in the Gaza Strip and along the Lebanon-Israel border.

Hizbullah has embarked on a war of attrition against Israel in conjunction with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organizations in southern Lebanon.

Thus far, Hizbullah has refrained from altering the rules of engagement, avoiding escalated attacks on Israel and steering clear of incursions into Israeli territory.

Hassan Nasrallah, Ziad al- Nakhalah, Saleh al-Arouri
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah (center) during a meeting with Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah (left) and Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri at the end of August 2023. The day before,
Nasrallah met with the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Nasrallah has promised that his organization will not remain idle while Israel targets Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but Hizbullah has been relatively quiet so far.

This response has disappointed Hamas. Khaled Mashal, a senior figure within the organization, has criticized it, stating, “This is not how history is written.”

Hizbullah remains on high alert for potential conflict and may employ its full military might in a surprise attack on Israel once the IDF initiates a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

In such an attack, Hizbullah could deliver a substantial blow to Israel by launching thousands of rockets, precision-guided missiles, and drones at strategic targets within Israel while simultaneously attempting to seize territory in parts of the Galilee using its Radwan commando force.

Israel and the United States face challenges in deciphering Hassan Nasrallah’s intentions, and his silence may signify preparations for a major assault against Israel if it crosses his red lines and invades the Gaza Strip.

Employing a strategy of ambiguity allows Nasrallah to retain the element of surprise.

As soon as he declared that he would not sit idly by in the face of Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip, he engaged in relatively low-level attacks on Israel while keeping the option of escalation at his disposal.

The Lebanese government is deeply concerned about the potential for a widespread war that could devastate Lebanon entirely.

Despite these concerns, Nasrallah acts independently.

According to foreign sources, Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected Defense Minister Galant’s proposal for a preemptive strike against Hizbullah. President Biden also opposed such a move.

Netanyahu warned Hizbullah that entering the war would be the mistake of their life, and the price paid would far surpass that of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

However, Hassan Nasrallah has yet to respond to Netanyahu’s warning.

Hassan Nasrallah, encouraged by Iran, may seize the opportunity presented by Israel’s focus on ousting Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip to launch a surprise attack on the northern border.

The IDF has a significant presence in that region, but Israel must soon decide how to manage simultaneous fronts in the north and south.

Israel faces a dilemma. On one hand, it must deal a severe blow to Hamas, topple its rule, and secure the release of abductees.

On the other hand, given its substantial arsenal of missiles and rockets, an opportunity has arisen to address Hizbullah’s significant threat to settlements along the northern border and cities in Israel’s interior.

Iran established the formidable Hizbullah as a deterrent, equipping it with tens of thousands of rockets, missiles, and drones to protect against potential Israeli attacks on its nuclear facilities. The question now arises: will Iran change this goal and draw down Hizbullah’s weaponry to save Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip from collapsing? Will Iran risk the destruction of the state of Lebanon?

There are no definitive answers to these questions. General Ismail Ka’ani, the commander of the “Quds” force of the Iranian “Revolutionary Guards,” visited Lebanon to coordinate positions with Hassan Nasrallah.

Israeli and American intelligence agencies have thus far failed to discern Nasrallah’s intentions.

Consequently, Israel must prepare for the worst-case scenario to avoid being caught off guard.