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I just landed in Israel on Thursday and must tell you that three months into this war the people of Israel are as united as ever. The moral resolve has not atrophied one single iota to defeat Hamas and bring home all the remaining hostages. The will and the spirit of the people are at an all-time high. It is manifested in 360,000 young men volunteering to serve in the reserves, and in all manner of volunteerism for the displaced people of the south and of the north. In the center of Israel where my daughter lives, there is not a single family that has not given clothing, food, and toys to the families who fled with merely the shirts on their backs.

Speaking of Israel’s northern border: This past Saturday, according to Reuters, 62 rockets and missiles were lobbed into Israel from Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Whether or not it has been officially uttered, every Israeli knows that they are already in another hot war, one with Hezbollah. Hezbollah said it has fired these rockets in response to what they believe is the Israeli and US killing of one of Hamas’ chief strategists, Saleh al-Arouri, who had a very long rap sheet. He was responsible for the founding of the extremely violent Izz ad-Din al-Qassam military brigades of Hamas; for the rejuvenation of the intifada in Judea Samaria/the West Bank; for the monthly payments to Hamas terrorists;  and for the kidnapping and death of the 3 teenagers from the Gush Etzion region of Jerusalem, Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, that resulted in the 2014 Gaza War.

In the mysterious blast in his Beirut apartment building, along with Mr. Saleh-al Arouri, six other high-ranking Hamas officials went down. Mr. al-Arouri had resided in Lebanon because he was the key connector between Hamas and Hezbollah.

Because of the continuous tit-for-tat lobbing of missiles in Israel’s north, the entire northern Israeli towns of Kiryat Shmoneh and Metula have been evacuated of residents. The area of approximately 1.2 miles, or 2 kilometers has been made into a military zone.  Approximately 80,000 residents have been internally displaced from these northern Israeli towns. Between the north and the south, approximately half a million Israeli residents have been internally displaced from their homes.

What is essential to bear in mind is that there are two UN Resolutions that have been entirely ignored by the international community.

The first is UN Security Council 1559, passed on September 2, 2004, two years before the second Lebanon war with Israel. UN Security Council Resolution 1559 reaffirms the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of the state of Lebanon under the sole exclusive authority of the state of Lebanon, calls upon all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, and calls upon the immediate dismantling of all foreign militias.

Of course, Hezbollah has virtually suffocated any semblance of the “confessionalist” government which is supposed to represent the various factions of the Lebanese demographic mosaic, where the President is supposed to be a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim, and the Prime Minister, a Sunni Muslim. However, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been the most dominant political force inside Lebanon and has been described as “a state within a state.”  Hezbollah’s brute use of force has enabled it to dominate the Lebanese Armed Forces and to run a rough shot over UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon.

Also, despite the fact that the International Scouting Movement boasts on its website that through scouting, “we are enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens who create positive change in their communities and around the world based on shared values”, the Iranian regime has established a terrorist scouting movement,  the Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts Association, which aims to indoctrinate children from age 8  to 16 to participate in terrorism against Israel and to brainwash them in radical Shiite ideology. This is a fertile feeding ground for Hezbollah.

On May 24, 2000, Israel withdrew all of its forces from southern Lebanon, painting the stones blue. That is why it has been known as “the Blue Line”.  They had honored both the letter and the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

However, Hezbollah never withdrew from southern Lebanon. They were continuously carrying out cross-border attacks. This suddenly to a head on the morning of July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah launched rockets and mortars into Israel, infiltrated Israeli territory, ambushed and killed several Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two other reservists. This culminated in the Second Lebanon War.

On August 11, 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1701, calling for a complete ceasefire, respect for the Blue Line; and for the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River to be free of all armed personnel, assets and weapons, other than those of the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL.

Of course, Hezbollah never withdrew its forces south of the Litani River. By now, southern Lebanon has been totally overrun and is completely dominated by Hezbollah. In fact, all of Lebanon’s political infrastructure, its economy, and its security apparatus have been at the mercy of the Iranian proxy group. Since October 7th, Hezbollah’s rockets, drones, and missiles have killed 9 IDF soldiers and 4 civilians along Israel’s northern border.

If this were any other time, Israel would have unleashed a great deal more force. However, its arsenal is waiting, and Israel is waiting for precisely the right time. Most Israelis know that this is something that has got to be done for the residents of northern Israel to be able to return to their homes and live in relative security. They also know that knocking out the approximate 150,000 missiles, some number of which have been converted into precision-guided munitions that can hit critical sites of Israel’s infrastructure, would make the state of Israel much more secure.  And since Iran sees Israel as simply “the puppet of the United States”, it would make the US much more secure. Israel is simply their test case.

Hezbollah is playing with fire. This weekend, they attempted to hit the Israeli side of Mt. Hermon. Saturday, they went as far south as Meiron. Yet, Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah said on Wednesday, “If the enemy thinks of waging a war on Lebanon, we will fight without restraint, without rules, without limits, and without restrictions”. However, he also added, “We are not afraid of war. For now, we are fighting on the front line, following meticulous calculations.”

It appears that Tehran, which we all know is pulling Hezbollah’s strings, is somewhat afraid to get itself entangled in World War III. Or to mess with the sheer strength of the two of the greatest military powers in the world, that of the United States and the state of Israel. And with the formidable will of the Israeli people.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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