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Sarah: Good afternoon and welcome to yet another topical and timely EMET webinar. Today is day two hundred and sixty-nine of the war with Hamas. As most of you know, my name is Sarah Stern, the founder and president of EMET. EMET is an unabashedly pro-Israel, pro-American think tank and policy institute specializing in the Middle East. We write and publish at least one article a week and we host webinars on a weekly basis as well. We meet with members of Congress and their staffers on Capitol Hill almost every day. They have grown to rely on EMET for our thoughtful and intelligent analyses. None of our work would be possible without your support so please donate to EMET at  Today’s webinar features the thoughtful and courageous Sarit Zehavi of the Alma Center. Please also support the wonderful work of the Alma Center at

This week, prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel is moving toward the end of the war with Hamas in Gaza. However, the war with Hezbollah is looming. In fact, there has been a war of attrition going on with Hezbollah since October 8th. Israelis in the North have been bombarded with rockets, drones, and missiles on a daily basis. These Israelis include Lieutenant Colonel Sarit Zehavi and her family.

Today, Mohammad Naameh Nasser, a senior Hezbollah commander, was killed near the Lebanese coastal city of Tyre. In his speech last week, Hezbollah Chief, Hassan Nasrallah, declared he has a hundred thousand fighters. He said he does not need help from the thousands more Shia fighters trying to join the fight.  On Monday, secretary of State, Antony Blinken spoke at the Brookings Institute. He said that Israel has lost its sovereignty in the North and he is correct. Since October 8th, sixty to one hundred thousand people from Israel’s North have had to abandon their homes. Families, including those with many children, are being accommodated in single hotel rooms. Cities like Matula and Kiryat Shmona have suffered widespread damage. Right now, there are fires raging in Israel’s North. Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, North Macedonia, Kuwait, and the United States, have asked their citizens to evacuate Lebanon. A report from the London Times said that Hezbollah is storing weapons at Beirut Airport.

Last week, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu visited members of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade. He told them the IDF has drawn up meticulous plans and is ready for war with Hezbollah. Does Israel have any other choice but to go to war with Hezbollah? We know that Hezbollah has at least a hundred and fifty thousand, to two hundred and fifty thousand missiles, drones, and rockets. These could swarm Israel’s defense systems. What precautions is the Israeli government putting in place to protect its citizens? What is Lebanon’s responsibility? Have they enabled Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon? Does the conflict have the potential to escalate into a wider war between Iran and its allies, against the West? Here to discuss these questions and more is Lieutenant Colonel Sarit Zehavi, one of the most admirable women I know.

Lieutenant Colonel Sarit Zehavi is the founder and president of the Alma Research and Education Center. She served in Israel’s Defense Forces Intelligence Corps for 15 years. She began her work there in research and analysis, and then moved to the Northern Command. She has advised United States senators and representatives on security developments in Lebanon and Syria. Sarit was selected by the Jerusalem Post as one of the top fifty most influential Jewish personalities of 2021. I advise you to visit the Alma Center when the situation in the North becomes calmer. Everyone should see Sarit’s computer simulation to better understand what it is like to have to make split second decisions to protect the people of Israel.

Sarit, last week Israel’s Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, said he is ready and prepared to defend the people of Israel from every Iranian proxy. We know that Amos Hochstein has visited the region trying to resuscitate UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 requires Hezbollah to move to positions North of the Litani River. Does the state of Israel have any choice but to go to war against Hezbollah?

Sarit: Before answering your question, I want to discuss the background behind me. It looks like a beautiful sunset. It was taken from my balcony last Friday. If I move it a little, you will be able to see a line of smoke. If I move it in a different direction, you will be able to see something that looks like a blast. I took the photo last Friday while watching the war zone from my balcony. At that time, a few drones and rockets had been launched from Lebanon, towards the western Galilee. My balcony faces west toward the Mediterranean, and this is what we saw. We saw the jets, the drones and the missiles. We witnessed twenty minutes of war in the sky.

We had no alerts in my community, which is why I could take these photos. We did hear alerts from the nearby communities and these types of alerts are not unusual. Hearing the sounds of war is a daily reality here in the North. I live nine kilometers from Lebanon. Those who lived up to five kilometers from Lebanon before October 7th, have now been evacuated. The Ministry of Defense has already confirmed one thousand requests for compensation of damages, especially for damage to homes.

We understand a Hezbollah commander was assassinated today. This commander was one of the most senior of the thirty-two who have been killed since the war started. This means we are going to have a rough evening. We have already been hearing constant alerts and we anticipate a few difficult days to come. Hezbollah started this war on October 8th. Israel was not interested in conflict on the northern front. I think Israel is still not interested in another full-scale war on the northern front. However, Israel’s stance has changed since October 6th. Israelis living here are not going to accept any agreement that will put us in a similar situation to the one experienced by our brothers and sisters in the South before October 7th. They lived with barrages of rockets and missiles from Hamas in Gaza. After living like that for almost eighteen years, they were massacred.

Hezbollah was prepared to infiltrate Israel before the war. They have the capability and religious motivation to do it now. We already witnessed thousands of combatants invading Israel on October 7th. A ceasefire based on Resolution 1701 would provide Hezbollah the opportunity to recover from damages inflicted by this war and then recommence their attacks. We are not going to let that happen. We are not against a cease fire because we are all aware of the risks of war, and even of the potential for catastrophe. In addition to war in the North and South, we could see the war fronts expanding to the East and even to the West from the Mediterranean. At the same time Israel has to protect itself. In my opinion, the best option is to find a diplomatic solution that is not fictional. This diplomatic solution must actually address Hezbollah’s capabilities and motivations. Unfortunately, I do not see this happening now.

Sarah: We know Hezbollah has at least a hundred and fifty thousand rockets. They have around two hundred thousand drones and missiles, some of which are precision guided. Given the war with Hamas, does Israel still have the weapons capability to take on Hezbollah’s arsenal?

Sarit: The Iron Dome does not intercept rockets about to fall in open areas, that is why we have fires in the North. To be on the safe side, we launch two interceptors for every rocket launch. Each interceptor costs $50,000 and we experience rocket launches on a daily basis. Each rocket launched costs a few hundred dollars or less. Over the past nine months, we have used thousands of interceptors in both the South and in the North, and we need more. At the same time, Israel’s Iron Dome is fully prepared and our other aerial defense systems are prepared as well. Once a decision has been taken as to which defense system to employ, it can be activated within seconds to deal with an attack.

It is clear we are going to face swarms of drones and barrages of rockets. Over the past nine months alone, we have witnessed twenty-three hundred attacks by Hezbollah. This does not mean that Hezbollah fired twenty-three hundred missiles. Two hours ago, we were attacked by a barrage of rockets in the Golan Heights. These were counted as one attack in our database. On Friday evening, Hezbollah fired a barrage of twenty-five rockets, one toward the western Galilee and another toward the upper Galilee. So, twenty-three hundred attacks, involves many more that in terms of the number of missiles, drones and rockets. We do not know exactly how many rockets Hezbollah has fired, because the IDF does not publish the numbers.

Anti-tank missiles are a type of ammunition reaching a relatively short range of around ten kilometers. We are unable to intercept these anti-tank missiles. There is no defensive solution for these missiles. We cannot issue alerts when they are launched because the distance is very short, and our systems do not recognize them.

Until now, Hezbollah has launched a maximum of four drones at the same time. In April, the Iranians launched more than thirty drones simultaneously. We were able to deal with them, in part because they had to cross two thousand kilometers. Here, they have to cross only two hundred meters, and that is why they succeed in reaching us. They are also able to fly low between the mountains and this terrain also helps facilitate their success. Of course we intercept many of them. The two drones you see in my picture are an example of drones we were not able to intercept.

Sarah: The Alma Center has been doing excellent investigative work on the tunnels for many years. There is a vast tunnel network from the North that runs underneath and across Israel’s northern border. How can Israel apply the lessons of October 7th to ensure that Israeli soldiers and civilians are not captured and held in Hezbollah’s tunnels?

Sarit: There is no 100% guarantee with these issues, but we can take steps to protect ourselves. It is important for me to clarify that all of these steps will help us to reduce the risk to our citizens, but will not eliminate it. Hostage-taking is part of Hezbollah’s plan. They want to take Israeli hostages to become human shields. To circumvent this threat, we should be protecting our border communities. We should invest in building a barrier on the border, in building shelters and in recruiting and training more soldiers to defend our communities. Some of this has been done over the past nine months, but it is not enough. The steps that have been taken do not provide a guarantee that Hezbollah will not attack and take hostages.

To try and prevent such attacks, we should ensure Hezbollah does not have the capabilities to carry it out. Hezbollah has an elite unit named the Radwan Force. The Radwan Force comprises a few thousand combatants. They are trained and experienced in doing exactly what the Nukhba Unit of Hamas did in the South. The soldiers of the Radwan Force have experience from the battles in Syria. As such, we believe they are better soldiers, or worse terrorists, than the Nukhba Unit of Hamas.

Eliminating the capabilities of Hezbollah, does not mean pushing them back north of the Litani River. It does not mean pushing them back eight kilometers from the border, and it does not mean calling on them to withdraw. All these terms are irrelevant in this situation because the distances are so close here. Last week, the IDF told us they had pushed the Radwan brigades back to eight kilometers from the border. However, other Hezbollah units are still on the border. Also, once there is a ceasefire, they can come back. If they have underground infrastructure, which we believe they do, they can come back. That is why it is not enough to push them back.

What needs to be done is to disarm them. There is a legal basis for that. There was a 2004 United Nation Security Council resolution requiring disarmament of the militias of Lebanon. It has nothing to do with Israel. It is for the sake of the Lebanese themselves. Based on this resolution, the international community should demand that Hezbollah be disarmed and they should actively help to achieve disarmament. Disarming this militia may help to prevent the taking of hostages, because it would remove their capability. As long as they maintain their capabilities and they are simply pushed back, they will return.

We conducted research on this at the Alma Center. Around 65% of the three hundred and fifty Hezbollah military operatives killed by the IDF recently, lived in this area. Everybody is talking about pushing Hezbollah back. Hezbollah military operatives and their families are living in the area south of the Litani River. Those killed are buried there. There is no incentive for them to withdraw from the area. Hezbollah is the local organization embedded in the communities of South Lebanon. It is not a foreign militia that took over South Lebanon and is oppressing the Lebanese in the South. No, the Lebanese in the South are an active part of Hezbollah. The only way to defeat them is to remove their capabilities via disarmament.

Sarah: Hezbollah recently published a video, which I am sure you saw. The video shows footage of key strategic sites in Haifa. Do you think Israel has the defensive capability to be able to defend those sites? Can Hezbollah’s rockets swarm Israel’s defensive capabilities?

Sarit: We analyzed the entire nine-minute video. We concluded that it probably includes footage from more than one drone. If you scrutinize the shading in the video, you understand the images were not taken on the same day or were not taken at the same time of the day. This means that more than one drone was able to infiltrate more than thirty kilometers into Israel. They were able to film the military and civilian infrastructures of Haifa. Haifa is the biggest city in the North. It has many key civilian infrastructures including a big seaport. This port is the main maritime gate into the state of Israel. They filmed all of it. They did this for two reasons. The first is to conduct psychological warfare against us while the second is pure intelligence gathering. This is how you do it. This is how you map targets.

We can defend against tens of drones launched from Lebanon to Haifa Bay. We can defend against drones launched toward the gas rigs over there. However, this will not be a clean war. As an example, a single drone could hit the hospital and create extensive damage. We are very aware that it is possible. Not all civilians have shelters, and not all the schools have shelters, and we anticipate the damage could be huge. We can only do the best we can to prevent damage.

If the current conflict escalates into a full-scale war, Hezbollah will launch munitions at Haifa. They will attack the same targets marked in the video. This means there will be damage done to military and civilian infrastructures in Israel. We know that.

Sarah: A June 23rd report from AP said that thousands of fighters from Iranian backed groups throughout the Middle East are ready to come to Lebanon to join Hezbollah. How large an army will Israel have to confront?

Sarit: Nasrallah addressed this issue himself. It is clear that he is not interested in non-Lebanese coming to Lebanon to fight with Hezbollah. Lebanon is a very diverse country but it seems that most Lebanese agree they do not want to accept any more refugees. They have more than a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They did not award them citizenship and they have caused a lot of crime-related problems inside Lebanon. As such, I do not think they want more non-Lebanese entering the country. On the other hand, I think it is more probable that Israel will be attacked by Iranian backed militias from other borders, such as Syria and maybe even Jordan.

Let’s talk about Syria. There are Iranian proxy militias already in Syria. There are also Iranian militias in Iraq. They have sworn to go to the Syrian front and fight Israel from there. According to our assessments, these militias are less equipped and less professional than Hezbollah. However, we should not underestimate them. Ultimately, all they have to do to kill Israelis, is to cross into Israel. They do not need to be the most sophisticated warriors. They need to cross the border and enter into the communities. We have communities next to the border, including those next to the Syrian border. Today there was a terrorist attack in the mall not far from where I live. Two soldiers were attacked with a knife and one of them was killed. I go to the cinema there with my little girl. They were able to murder an Israeli there with just a knife. There are a few hundred people in each proxy militia and we should not underestimate the harm they can do.

We are aware of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani and Syrian militia. We know that Hezbollah operates on the Syrian front. We also mapped thirty-six very small militia based in the Golan Heights. They are subordinate to the IRGC. They are locals that live in the towns in the Golan Heights. Again, they are not very professional, nor are they elite units but each has a few tens of terrorists. They could try to infiltrate Israel. I am not sure it would be an invasion comparable to that of Hamas, but infiltration from Syria is definitely an option. As I said, we have communities at risk right next to the border.

Sarah: You mentioned the North, South and West. There could also be a huge infiltration from Jordan, into Judea and Samaria or the West Bank if you will. So, Israel has got to be prepared. Do you really believe that the war with Hamas and Gaza is coming to a close or will Hamas replicate itself in another form?

Sarit: Hamas is a replica of Hezbollah, and not the other way around. This was never an Israel- Hamas war, nor was this a war between Israel and Hezbollah. Since October 7th, I have been emphasizing that every time I speak. This is an Iranian campaign against Israel. Israel is the long arm of the West in the Middle East. The campaign was designed to last a few years and the goal is to bring about the destruction of the state of Israel. To achieve their objective, the Iranians cultivated militias in all the countries surrounding Israel. The attacks from the Houthis of Yemen are part of that. We have witnessed what they have done in the Red Sea, and we believe the attacks will extend to the Mediterranean soon. This is something that should be recognized and addressed as part of an ongoing regional war and not as something local. This is because it is just part of the overall Iranian plan for hegemony in the region.

Unfortunately, all of us choose to ignore this reality and it is wrong. We should not ignore it. I see the Houthis of Yemen training to take over an Israeli community. I hear everyone saying they are crazy to prepare for this. They cannot possibly reach Israel because they are fifteen or sixteen hundred kilometers from the closest point, Eilat. However, given the events of October 7th, we should be asking why they are training to invade Israel and how they plan to get here. They are obviously highly motivated to get here. Now the question is, what is their plan? There is a plan, we just do not know what it is. Are they going to come from Jordan or are they going to come from the Red Sea? Are they going to be sent to Iraq, to Syria and then to the Golan Heights? I truly do not know. However, I do know that if they are training to take over an Israeli community, somebody is planning to send them to do it.

We should not be assuming Hamas was the instigator of the attacks on Israel and others are copying them. No, this is a well-planned campaign. The Iranians planned it before it started. Hezbollah used PR videos to talk about their intentions both before and after October 7th. I have all of their declarations in my database. They clearly stated they were planning to attack us on all fronts at the same time. Nasrallah mentioned one hundred thousand combatants, I do not think it matters whether they have one hundred thousand or one hundred and fifty thousand combatants. The bottom line is that we are facing a multi-front campaign. This is not just a threat just against Israel, it is a threat against the Western world. Israel is considered the representative of the West in the Middle East because of its values and democratic government. Iran considers Israel as the small devil while the United States is the big devil.

Sarah: Last Friday, the Iranian representative to the United Nations said that if Israel launches a war against Hezbollah, it will be obliterated. We know that the head of the octopus is Iran.

Sarit: We all fall for the Iranian narrative threatening there will be consequences if Israel launches a war against Hezbollah. In reality, Hezbollah launched a war against Israel on October 8th. We should change the narrative to reflect the truth. Since October 8th, Israel civilians in the North have been under constant attack. Israel is not seeking a war in the North.

Sarah: As you mentioned before, Mr. Hochstein has been in the region talking about a resuscitation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. We know that is not a realistic solution. Is there any diplomatic solution Israel might be willing to accept?

Sarit: I do not speak on behalf of my government. There is a difference between what I think and what my government thinks. I believe my government is willing to make a lot of problematic compromises. As I said, I think my government is not interested in a major military campaign with Lebanon, and would prefer a ceasefire. If this ceasefire does not deal with Hezbollah’s capabilities, it will be unlikely to last and we will have to deal with them eventually. I believe any diplomatic arrangement should include a deadline for disarming Hezbollah. As I mentioned, that is the end goal. I hope that any monitoring force receiving the mission to monitor a peace arrangement, will be trustworthy and willing to clash with Hezbollah.

The UN clearly has no interest in clashing with Hezbollah. The Lebanese Army is also not interested in clashing with Hezbollah. The Lebanese Army collaborates with Hezbollah. We need a monitoring force that understands Hezbollah is not going to disarm voluntarily. Assuming Hezbollah was to agree to disarm, there is no guarantee they would adhere their obligations under the agreement. This is very important to understand. Signing an agreement, or committing to an agreement, cannot be our end goal. Our end goal needs to be the implementation of the agreement. We know from experience, there is a huge gap between the two. Hezbollah agreed to Resolution 1701 in 2006. They had no intention of implementing it and they were never forced to comply with it.

Sarah: Yes, and every year the US government funds the Lebanese Armed forces. Our taxpayer dollars also fund the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Both of these forces appear to have been co-opted by Hezbollah. Last Friday, the house voted on appropriations. A single congressman raised the issues relating to this funding and was voted down. As a result, we continue to fund the Lebanese armed forces. Can you talk a bit about the Lebanese Armed forces and UNIFIL?

Sarit: The Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL are two different forces with different interests. Let’s start with the Lebanese Armed Forces. Since 2006, the United States has given billions of dollars to the Lebanese Army. There is a debate at the Alma Center as to whether we think this should continue or not. Irrespective, those funding the Lebanese Army should understand how their money is being used. The purpose of providing funds to the Lebanese Army cannot be to disarm or fight Hezbollah. That is not going to happen because the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah are the same family. Half of the combat soldiers of the Lebanese Army are Muslim Shiites. There are families with one son in the Lebanese Army, and the other who is with Hezbollah.

When I was on the border, I witnessed Hezbollah military operatives taking photos of me many times. Lebanese Army soldiers stood next to Hezbollah while they were taking these pictures. They were accompanying each other and were talking and laughing together. I saw Hezbollah on the watch-towers of the Lebanese Army. They were following an IDF drill. Hezbollah uses the vehicles of the Lebanese Army. The Lebanese Army assists Hezbollah in concealing its military activity in South Lebanon from UNIFIL. So, clearly the Lebanese Army is not a solution. I can see only one reason to continue to provide funding to them and not everybody at the Alma Center agrees with me. The reason I see to continue supporting the Lebanese Army is to make sure that Iran or Russia does not support them. In that case, the question becomes what kind of support they should receive.

How much money and what kind of munitions should they receive? We need to assume that bullets provided to the Lebanese Army will be used to shoot at IDF soldiers. It is as clear as that. France provided anti-tank missiles to the Lebanese Army. What threat were they intended to counter? Weapons of that type were not needed to deal with threats from ISIS or Hezbollah and their only feasible targets were the IDF. As such, the Lebanese Army should not have received these types of missiles. Rather, they should be given the capability to disarm Hezbollah and there should be clear demands that they do so. At the same time, we should assume they will not succeed in disarming Hezbollah on their own accord and we should implement mechanisms to monitor the process. They will not do anything without pressure. We need to debunk the argument that if we empower the Lebanese Army, they will disarm Hezbollah.

Saying the Lebanese Army is weak and must be strengthened, considers a fraction of the overall picture. I agree that the Lebanese Army is weak, but that does not mean that empowering it is going to solve the problem. This brings me to another point. Lebanon is a failed state and Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. You may have seen the articles about Hezbollah storing weapons at the international airport in Beirut. The Minister of Transportation denied this was happening. He invited journalists to visit the airport but prevented them from visiting the aerial cargo warehouse. The Minister of Transportation of Lebanon is a member of Hezbollah. So, you cannot distinguish the Lebanese government from Hezbollah. Hezbollah is not a foreign militia that took over Lebanon. Hezbollah is a local militia that has taken over Lebanon. That is why they have a tight relationship with the Lebanese Army. Last week, the commander of the Lebanese Army met with the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon.

UNIFIL maintains it is not their mission to enforce Resolution 1701. They claim their mission is to assist the Lebanese Army. This is well and good but there is an article in Resolution 1701 stating that UNIFIL should use all its capabilities to make sure that its area of operation is not used for hostile activity. UNIFIL has not done this for many years and has certainly not done this over the past nine months. For eighteen years they have been claiming Resolution 1701 does not permit them to enter private areas yet Hezbollah has placed most of its munitions in private properties.

In the past, UNIFIL has reported that they have observed shooting ranges in open areas of South Lebanon from their helicopters. They claimed they did not enter these areas to investigate further, because the Lebanese Army did not give them permission to do so. They are saying the Lebanese Army prevents them from checking the areas where they observe suspicious activity. Hezbollah has built watchtowers along the border over the past two years. These towers have already been bombed by the IDF. Before the war, UNIFIL reported they were blocked from entering the watchtowers by people in civilian attire. These civilians were Hezbollah operatives and the towers were not private property. They branded the towers as buildings associated with a Lebanese organization called something like the Green Without Borders Environmental Organization. They maintained its mission is to prevent fires and to plant trees. This was not true. The towers were a cover for Hezbollah’s military activity on the border. Further, if the property belonged to an NGO registered in Lebanon, it was not private property and UNIFIL could have inspected it. Irrespective, UNIFIL did not insist on entering these places and is not willing to clash with Hezbollah. UNIFIL is a UN organization. How many UN organization have actually fought against others? I would like for them to come and observe the reality of what is happening on the Northern border right now.

Sarah: After October 7th, it is obvious that Israel has to recreate its image of strength and deterrence. Would you, in your personal capacity, recommend a preemptive strike against Hezbollah?

Sarit: We cannot conduct a preemptive strike because the war has already begun. I think I agree with my government on this question. A full-scale war is the last option. I say this because I am aware of the cost of such a war. That said, I believe that we can do more to damage Hezbollah without having to enter into a full-scale war with them. Of course, doing this does run the risk of escalation. I am very well aware of that, but I think that it is better than the current situation. It also seems like the IDF does not publicize its achievements in Lebanon sufficiently. The IDF has targeted Lebanon around five thousand times since this war started. Ninety thousand Lebanese have been evacuated from different towns near the border.

They have left the towns close to the border. Because of IDF strikes, there are many distractions in the Lebanese towns close to the border. These strikes are occurring because Hezbollah is hiding its munitions, headquarters, tunnels and tunnel shafts in those towns. They are hiding them inside of places likes homes and schools. I think that we can do much more offensively and we can definitely do much more defensively. I think we can absolutely do much more with regard to collaborating with the international community. We need to convince them to back us in the event we have no other choice but to enter into a full-scale war in Lebanon.

Sarah: We have received many excellent questions from our audience. You mentioned the huge disparity between the cost of intercepting rockets versus using the cost of firing them. It has been reported that the Iron Beam will become operational in a couple of months. One of our audience members asked if it would it be feasible for Israel to wait and delay an operation against Hezbollah until the Iron Beam is deployed?

Sarit: Yes, but it means that sixty thousand Israelis cannot go back to their homes until then. Also, let us not mislead ourselves, the Iron Beam does not provide 100% insurance against damage. I do not know whether Iron Beam is an effective defense against anti-tank missiles but I know it is not effective in all weather conditions and I am aware there are limitations to this technology. We do know the Iron Beam will improve our situation but I do not know how long it will take before it becomes operational. Similar to what we saw with the Iron Dome, we anticipate its performance will need to be improved for some time after it becomes operational. As such, we do not anticipate its performance is not going to be at 97% or 95% from the start.

Sarah: You said that at least sixty thousand Israelis from the North are still living in hotel rooms and waiting to go back to their homes.

Sarit: Not all of them. Sixty thousand people were evacuated, but most of them are not in hotels anymore. About a quarter or a third of them are still living in hotels. Others have rented apartments or are living with relatives because it is very difficult to live in hotels for long periods of time. Those who rented apartments, have to furnish the apartments from scratch. They were forced to leave their clothing, toys, books and everything else behind. We are working to help each other and have gathered as many supplies and donations as possible.

Sarah: The beautiful, giving Israeli spirit is amazing.

Sarit: That’s what is going to win this war, the Israeli spirit.

Sarah: That is right, the resilience. We are a wonderful, resilient people who rise to the occasion. We know we have elections in the US in November. We are not quite sure of what the outcome of those elections will be. My wonderful friend, Ellen Haman asked whether Israel can wait until after the US elections before confronting Hezbollah in the hope that another administration might be more supportive?

Sarit: I do not want to get into your politics, I have enough of my own. I am aware of what happened in United States this week. All I can say I wish you good luck and I wish us all good luck.  As I said, we in Israel need help. Whichever way the election plays out, we need your help. That is clear to me.

Sarah: Yeah. We at EMET have noticed that many leaders of our Arab frenemies have been visiting Tehran recently. We thought we could rely on the Abraham Accords but perhaps that is no longer true.  Osama Bin Laden once said that if you need to choose between a strong and a weak horse, you should always support the strong one. Do you see that type of thinking is influencing what is taking place right now?

Sarit: Yes, but it is important not to view the situation as one way or the other. Saudi Arabia is an example of this. The fact that Saudi Arabia is talking to Iran about an agreement, does not mean it has abandoned the United States. It means Saudi Arabia is sending a message to United States that they have a problem with US policies. For that reason, they are preserving open channels with Iran. This is consistent with the Arab tactic of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer.

The Arab League has now announced that Hezbollah is no longer a terrorist organization. This facilitates their open dialogue with Hezbollah. The Egyptians do not suddenly believe Hezbollah is a humanitarian organization. They are being very pragmatic. I am not saying their actions are justified and I wish they would join us and follow a different direction. However, what is important is for us to understand why they are doing what they are. We should learn from what they are doing and understand we need to strengthen the relationship between United States, Israel, and the other countries that view Iran as a threat. In this way, we will prevent them from seeking open channels of communication with Iran. However, they are not exactly switching sides yet.

Sarah: There has been a lot of talk recently about the potential shortage of munitions for the IDF following the war in Gaza and the arms embargo. One of our listeners is asking how much this would impact the war with Hezbollah.

Sarit: For reasons you understand, I cannot get into detail about that topic here. That said, it is clear to me that the weapons available to us may be limited. This is not only an issue for Israel, by the way. No one expected that countries like Ukraine, Taiwan and others, would need so many munitions at the same time. Insufficient munitions may help to explain why we are taking our time here, but this has not been published as a contributing factor. The reasons we are not discussing any gaps or deficiencies with respect to munitions is understandable. That said, you should know that Israel has reservoirs to enable us to face another front, even if means a full-scale war with Hezbollah. The crucial question is how long it will take. As I said, the Iranians want to create a situation where we have a long-term war of attrition. That is why the shipments of munitions are crucial in the near future.

Sarah: Thank you. I am so sorry I have not had enough time to address all of the questions we received from our audience. Sarit has really done a wonderful job of analyzing and explaining the situation in the North. Anyone listening to this webinar today will understand why I hold Sarit Zehavi in such high esteem. Sarit has seen the writing on the wall and has been warning the world about the threats to Israel for years. Sarit is one of my favorite analysts and thinkers and a wonderful human being as well. Please support Sarit’s work and her organization. She is situated just a few kilometers away from the front, and she has a young family there as well. Please donate to the Alma Center at Please also support our webinars and all of the work we do promoting truth about the Middle East at

Sarit: Sarah, thank you for everything that you do, and it is extremely important and thank you for having me.



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