Spotlight on Terrorism: Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria (June 17 – 24 , 2024)

Metula attacked with anti-tank missiles (al-Manar, June 22, 2024)

Metula attacked with anti-tank missiles (al-Manar, June 22, 2024)

Hezbollah FPV drone and UAV strike.

Hezbollah FPV drone and UAV strike.

The Drome Dome system targeted in the attack (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).

The Drome Dome system targeted in the attack (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).

Illustration of the UAV.

Illustration of the UAV.

Identification of an Israeli navy missile ship (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)

Identification of an Israeli navy missile ship (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)

From the video (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 22, 2024)

From the video (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 22, 2024)

Aoun (right) with the Iranian ambassador (Lebanese army X account, June 19, 2024)

Aoun (right) with the Iranian ambassador (Lebanese army X account, June 19, 2024)

One of the IDF leaflets dropped in the rural areas of Daraa and al-Quneitra (Aknaf's X account, June 19, 2024)

One of the IDF leaflets dropped in the rural areas of Daraa and al-Quneitra (Aknaf's X account, June 19, 2024)

The Northern Arena - Updated from October 8, 2023
*Updated from October 8, 2023
Overview[1]
  • This past week, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 38 attacks on military and civilian targets in northern Israel, compared to 80 attacks during the previous week. Hezbollah attacked with anti-tank missiles, mortar shells, UAVs and various types of rockets. An IDF soldier was injured by a UAV and two reserve soldiers were injured by an anti-tank missile.
  • Israeli Air Force fighter jets and UAVs attacked Hezbollah targets and operatives in south Lebanon. A senior terrorist operative of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya was killed in a targeted attack in the Lebanon Valley.
  • Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah secretary general, warned that the organization would act without limitations in the event of an all-out war against Israel, could hit any target in Israeli territory and could invade the Galilee. He warned Cyprus not to participate on Israel’s side in the event of a war. Senior Hezbollah figures and those close to the organization took a similar position and claimed that Hezbollah did not want an all-out war with Israel, but was preparing for one and would respond with force.
  • According to reports, Hezbollah uses the Beirut International Airport to store Iranian weapons, including missiles and rockets.
  • Psychological warfare: Hezbollah published a video of a UAV that photographed security and civilian facilities in the Haifa area. Another video threatened to attack strategic sites in Israel.
  • The estimated damage to south Lebanon since the beginning of the fighting is over $1.5 billion and there are more than 90,000 displaced persons.
  • The American envoy Amos Hochstein held talks in Lebanon in an attempt to prevent further escalation in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
South Lebanon
Hezbollah attacks
  • During the week of June 17-24, 2024, as of 2:30 p.m., Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 38 attacks on military and civilian targets in northern Israel, compared to 80 attacks during the previous week. The attacks used anti-tank missiles, mortar shells, UAVs and various types of rockets, including heavy rockets (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18-23, 2024):
    • June 24 (until 2:30 p.m.): No attacks.
    • June 23: Six attacks (until 2:25 p.m.). Hezbollah claimed responsibility for launching a swarm of explosive drones at IDF headquarters near Safed. An IDF soldier was injured by a UAV hit; two reservists were injured by an anti-tank missile hit in Metula; a UAV from Lebanon fell near Safed, there were no casualties; Israeli air defense fighters intercepted two drones in two other incidents (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 23 and 24, 2024).
    • June 22: Five attacks. Anti-tank missiles hit houses in Metula and a field in Manara. No casualties were reported (Israeli media, June 21, 2024).
Metula attacked with anti-tank missiles (al-Manar, June 22, 2024)
Metula attacked with anti-tank missiles (al-Manar, June 22, 2024)
    • June 21: Six attacks. A suspicious aerial target from Lebanon was intercepted (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).
    • June 20: Five attacks. A suspicious aerial target from Lebanon was intercepted (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 20, 2024).
    • June 19: Nine attacks. UAVs exploded in Metula and Menara; an anti-tank missile hit Metula; a suspicious aerial target was intercepted; about ten rocket rockets were launched at Kiryat Shmona and landed in open areas, no casualties were reported (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel and Israeli media, June 19, 2024).
    • June 18: Seven attacks. An anti-tank missile an open area in Metula; rockets fell in open areas in Menara; a suspicious aerial target was intercepted over the sea near the Lebanese border. No casualties were reported (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel and Israeli media, June 18, 2024).
Aerial target intercepted near the Lebanese border (IDF spokesperson's Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)
Aerial target intercepted near the Lebanese border
(IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)
    • June 17: No attacks (as of 11:00).
First use of exploding hang gliders
  • On June 21, 2024, Hezbollah presented a video of a June 14, 2024 attack targeting technical equipment at an IDF base in the north. The video indicates it was the first use of an FPV (First Person View) explosive hang glider which damaged the Drone Dome system (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).
 The Drome Dome system targeted in the attack (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).    Hezbollah FPV drone and UAV strike.
Right: Hezbollah FPV drone and UAV strike. Left: The Drome Dome system targeted in the attack (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 21, 2024).
IDF response
  • In response, Israeli Air Force fighter jets and UAVs attacked Hezbollah targets and operatives in south Lebanon. Among the targets attacked were terrorist facilities, military buildings, ammunition depots, observation posts, launching positions, rocket launchers and surface-to-air missile launchers. Attacks were also carried out on drone-launching squads from Hezbollah’s air unit (IDF spokesperson, June 17 to 24, 2024). On June 19, 2024 the Lebanese media reported a series of attacks in the area of ​​al-Barghalia, north of Tyre. According to reports, one of the targets was a villa belonging to Ali Arab, a former Lebanese government minister (Lebanese News Agency, June 19, 2024).
 IDF documentation of the attack (IDF spokesperson's Telegram channel, June 19, 2024)    an attack in al-Barghalia in the Tyre region (Fouad Khreiss' X account)
Right: an attack in al-Barghalia in the Tyre region (Fouad Khreiss’ X account); Left: IDF documentation of the attack (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 19, 2024)
  • Israeli Air Force aircraft carried out targeted attack on senior Hezbollah operatives:
    • On June 17, Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub, a key operative in the rocket and missile unit of Hezbollah’s al-Nasr unit, was killed in an attack in Sal’aa in south Lebanon. In recent months he was involved in firing rockets at Israel and promoted terrorist activity from Lebanese territory (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 17, 2024). Hezbollah confirmed the death of Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub, aka Jalal, born in 1979 in Sal’aa (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17, 2024).
  Right: Attack on Sal'aa (IDF spokesperson's Telegram channel, June 17, 2024). Center: The remains of the vehicles (Voice of Lebanon X account, June 17, 2024); Left: Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17, 2024)
Right: Attack on Sal’aa (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 17, 2024). Center: The remains of the vehicles (Voice of Lebanon X account, June 17, 2024); Left: Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17, 2024)
    • On June 20, Faisal Ibrahim, the commander of Hezbollah operations in the Jwayya sector, was killed in an attack in Deir Kifa in south Lebanon. He was responsible for orchestrating terrorist attacks on Israeli territory and commanded the Hezbollah ground forces in the Jwayya sector. He also worked to improve Hezbollah’s land warfare capabilities (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, June 20, 2024). Hezbollah confirmed the death of Abbas Ibrahim Hamza Hamada, aka Faisal, born in 1985 in al-Shihabiyah (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 20, 2024).
Abbas Ibrahim Hamza Hamada (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 20, 2024)     The vehicle attacked in Deir Kifa (al-Akhbar, June 20, 2024)
Right: The vehicle attacked in Deir Kifa (al-Akhbar, June 20, 2024); Left: Abbas Ibrahim Hamza Hamada (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 20, 2024)
    • On June 20, Lebanese media reported that an Israeli aircraft had attacked a pickup truck near ​​the town of Hanaouay in the Tyre region. Two people in the vehicle were slightly injured. According to reports one of them sold vegetables (National News Agency and al-Akhbar, June 20, 2024).
The pickup after the attack (al-Akhbar, June 20, 2024)
The pickup after the attack (al-Akhbar, June 20, 2024)
Other Hezbollah casualties
  • Hezbollah reported the deaths of four other operatives (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17 to 22, 2024).
    • Hassan Muhammad Ali Saeb, aka Sadeq, born in 1970 in Yaroun.
    • Jihad Ahmed Haik, aka Haidar, born in 1999 in ‘Adsheet.
    • Hassan al-Mujtaba Yusuf Ahmed, aka Kayan, born in 1997 in Rashaf and a resident of ‘Ayteet.
    •  Wahbi Muhammad Ibrahim, aka Hadi, born in 1989 in Kafrkila.
  Hezbollah casualties (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17 to 20, 2024)
Hezbollah casualties (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 17 to 20, 2024)
Elimination of senior Jama’a al-Islamiyya operative
  • On June 22, 2024 an Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Ayman Ghatma, who was responsible for supplying weapons to Hamas and al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (The Islamic Group) in Lebanon and promoted attacks against Israel (IDF spokesperson website, June 22, 2024). The attack took place in the western Lebanon Valley. Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya in Lebanon issued a formal statement confirming the death of Ayman Hashem Ghatma, aka Abu Omar, and blamed Israel for a “new crime.” The movement said it would not hesitate to continue fulfilling its duty to protect “our land and the residents of the south” and would continue to support “our people in Palestine” (al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya in Lebanon Telegram channel, June 22, 2024). Lebanese sources reported that Ghatma, born in 1968, was killed in the town of al-Khiara in the western Lebanon Valley. He was returning from a tour of the al-Arqoub area in south Lebanon, accompanied by members of the al-Fajr forces, which belong to the movement (Palestinian Information Center, June 22, 2024).
Ayman Hashem Ghatma (al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya in Lebanon Telegram channel, June 22, 2024).     Ghatma's vehicle burns (al-Akhbar, June 22, 2024)
Right: Ghatma’s vehicle burns (al-Akhbar, June 22, 2024); Left: Ayman Hashem Ghatma (al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya in Lebanon Telegram channel, June 22, 2024).
Speech Given by Hassan Nasrallah
  • On June 19, 2024, Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech in memory of senior Hezbollah official, Taleb Sami Abdullah (Abu Taleb), and the three other Hezbollah operatives who were killed in an Israeli attack on June 12, 2024. The speech centered around a reference a possible all-out war against Israel (al-Manar, June 19, 2024):
    • Hezbollah is prepared for war: He claimed Hezbollah was prepared for any scenario, and threatened that if a war was “imposed” on Lebanon [sic] the organization would fight “without rules or borders.” According to him, Hezbollah had a “bank of targets” and could hit any point in Israel. He added that all of Israel’s coasts, ports and ships would be targets in the war “and [Israel] will not be able to protect them.” According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah has at least 100,000 fighters and a huge quantity of UAVs, precision missiles and “a new anti-aircraft missile,” some of which have already been put into action and some of which will be revealed later, as some of the missiles are manufactured in Lebanon.
    • Ground invasion of Israel: He warned that a Hezbollah invasion of the Galilee, as he claimed Israel feared, would be possible if the conflict escalated. He added that Israel continued to suffer losses on the Lebanese front but did not acknowledge them publicly in order “not to put pressure on the government.”
    • The ​​”unity of the arenas” is proving itself: He noted the importance of the concept of “unity of the arenas,” which according to him proved itself on the ground in a way that greatly affected the negotiations on ending the war in the Gaza Strip. He claimed Hezbollah had had many “achievements” as part of the “support front” for the Gaza Strip [which includes the Islamic resistance in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen], including occupying a large part of the IDF forces in the defense of the northern border, exhausting of the enemy in a long conflict, and the creation of the first “security zone” in Israel with the displacement of tens of thousands of residents and the paralysis of the entire north, Israel’s main agricultural, tourism and industrial area.
    • A threat against Cyprus: Nasrallah warned the Cypriot government not to help Israel in case of war or open its bases to it, claiming Hezbollah was aware of joint military exercises Israel was holding with Cyprus simulating a war with Lebanon [sic]. He said that if the airports in Cyprus were used in a war against Lebanon [sic], Hezbollah would regard Cypris “as if it were part of the war.”
Nasrallah gives a speech (al-Manar, June 19, 2024)
Nasrallah gives a speech (al-Manar, June 19, 2024)
Reactions to threat against Cyprus
  • Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said that his country was not part of the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, but part of the solution (Reuters, June 19, 2024). According to reports, the Cypriot embassy in Beirut suspended the issuance of visas to Lebanese citizens, but the Lebanese deputy foreign minister, Elias Bou Saab, claimed it was a 24-hour “technical pause” (al-Jadeed, June 20, 2024).
  • The Lebanese and Cypriot foreign ministers noted the close historical relations between the countries (Cypriot foreign ministry X account, June 20, 2024). The Lebanese foreign ministry stated that bilateral communications and consultations being held continuously at the highest levels to strenuously promote issues of common interests (Lebanese foreign ministry X account, June 20, 2024).
  • Walid Jumblatt, the former chairman of the Lebanese Progressive-Socialist Party, said that Cyprus had provided asylum to the Lebanese for decades.
  • Ghayath Yazbak, Lebanese Forces Party faction member of the Lebanese Parliament, accused Nasrallah of “humiliating the Lebanese foreign ministry, government and state, Cyprus and the European Union, of which it is a member” (Ghayath Yazbek’s X account, June 19, 2024)
  • The London-based daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Nasrallah’s opponents, as well as some of his allies, said that by threatening Cyprus, Nasrallah had ignored the Lebanese government and undermined its diplomatic efforts. According to the report, although Nasrallah sought to discourage Cyprus from helping Israel, his tone was offkey (al-Sharq al-Awsat, June 22, 2024).
  • Following Nasrallah’s threats to Cyprus, an anti-Hezbollah Lebanese group published cartoons mocking Nasrallah. In one of them he rides a jet ski and the caption reads, “We will enter Ayia Napa [a Cypriot tourist resort] with you” (Tanzim Thuwwar Lubnan X account, June 20, 2024). In another he sails in a boat with several donkeys and a hoopoe,[2] which represents the Hezbollah drone [called Hudhud] which photographed the Haifa area, with a caption reading, “To Cyprus and what is after after Cyprus” (Tanzim Thuwwar Lubnan X account, June 20, 2024; @jimlf007’s X account, June 20, 2024).
 Nasrallah's threats against Cyprus. Right: (Tanzim Thuwwar Lubnan X account, June 20, 2024. Left: mohammadnour368's X account, June 20, 2024)    Nasrallah's threats against Cyprus. Right: (Tanzim Thuwwar Lubnan X account, June 20, 2024. Left: mohammadnour368's X account, June 20, 2024)
Nasrallah’s threats against Cyprus. Right: (Tanzim Thuwwar Lubnan X account, June 20, 2024. Left: mohammadnour368’s X account, June 20, 2024)
Hezbollah Prepares for War
  • Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Hezbollah-affiliated daily al-Akhbar, noted that the objective of Hassan Nasrallah’s last speech was to convey messages from the “resistance”[3] to Israel and the world regarding the consequences of an all-out war. He said the “resistance” usually did not act in such a fashion, but claimed that those who [allegedly] “do not want war for war’s sake can warn their enemy and reveal their capabilities to prevent him from starting one.” He added that the “resistance” considered every Israeli “military-type action ” as a declaration of all-out war, and said that “there is no longer a reaction to an attack or days of combat only, but only open war.” He also said that if a war began, the rules which Hezbollah obliged its field operatives to follow would change immediately and the attacks would be directed at military and civilian installations. He added that Lebanon would become a fighting front which would include an invasion of the Galilee and the takeover of military centers along with the “liberation of Lebanese or Palestinian villages” (al-Akhbar, June 24, 2024).
  • Al-Nashra’s news site cited “sources” who said that if Israel expanded the war zone in south Lebanon or began a large-scale military operation, Hezbollah would respond with a barrage of “ordinary” missiles to attack Haifa, and at the same time launch attack drones toward Iron Dome batteries and David Slingshots to overload the air defense systems. Hezbollah would then launch dozens of precision cruise missiles with heavy warheads at specific targets in and around the port of Haifa (al-Nashra, June 20, 2024).
  • According to reports, Hezbollah operatives went on high alert regarding taking the initiative in the field and establishing a “deterrent equation” of “city X in Israel for city Y in Lebanon.” As part of the preparations, new weapons were introduced into the area, including surface-to-air missiles and air defense systems, and logistical means were transferred to Hezbollah and Amal supporters in anticipation of the possibility that their living areas would be attacked and they would be forced to move to other areas (al-Anbaa’, June 17, 2024).
  • “Intermediaries” who are in contact with Hezbollah stated that Hezbollah’s “deterrent equation” was still in effect but was taking a “more offensive direction.” Hezbollah told the mediators that the preparedness of its fighting units had been completed despite Israel’s countermeasures. Hezbollah also stated that the military circumstances were most suitable for an attack on the northern “settlements” [Israeli cities, towns and villages], and that in recent years the organization’s training had included simulations of urban warfare in Israel. It was reported that Hezbollah had received high-quality weapons from the Russian Wagner Force, some of which it had used, including surface-to-air missiles that shot down Israeli UAVs, and more advanced surface-to-air missiles that could shoot down airplanes. According to the report, Hezbollah’s leadership informed the mediators, and in particular the United States through indirect channels, that a war in Lebanon would be difficult for the IDF, and that the war in the Gaza Strip would look like “child’s play” in comparison if there were an Israeli ground entry into Lebanon (Lebanon Files, June 17, 2024).
  • A “knowledgeable source” in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force stated that Iran would assist Hezbollah with all the necessary military means in the event of a war against Israel. According to “the source,” Iran had already provided the organization with unmanned naval vessels and submarines which could approach the Israeli coast and attack targets, in addition to anti-ship missiles and torpedoes to attack the Israeli Navy and the gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea. The source also claimed that Hezbollah had received anti-aircraft shoulder-fired missiles based on the reverse thrust of the American Stinger missile and that a successful experiment had already been carried out in shooting down advanced drones flying at high altitudes (al-Jarida, June 23, 2024).
  • Senior Hezbollah and Hezbollah-affiliated figures in Hezbollah referred to the ongoing escalation and the possibility of an all-out war with Israel:
    • Ali Damoush, the deputy chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, said that the “resistance” did not surrender to threats and even the threat of an all-out war would not make it change its position. He noted that the “resistance” was prepared for all possibilities and had capabilities, means, accurate information, fighters and a supportive environment which would help it achieve victory. He added that Nasrallah’s messages were clear and that Israel understood them (Lebanese News Agency, June 21, 2024).
    • Muhammad Yazbak, the chairman of Hezbollah’s Judiciary Council, claimed the organization was not interested in an all-out war, but if Israel forced one upon it, Hezbollah would make it understand what “returning to the Stone Age” meant. He reiterated Hezbollah’s position that the “resistance” would not stop until Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and lifted the [alleged] “blockade” (Lebanese News Agency, June 21, 2024).
    • Hassan Fadlallah, a member of the Hezbollah faction in the Lebanese Parliament, said that every attack by Israel had an appropriate response, and added that when the war ended it would be possible to see the extent of the enormous losses suffered by the enemy. He claimed that Israel would not achieve through politics what it had failed to achieve in the war, and the “resistance” would not give it a single gift in Lebanon or the Gaza Strip (al-Mayadeen, June 17, 2024).
    • Ali Fiadh, a member of the Hezbollah faction in the Lebanese Parliament, said that the “resistance” had succeeded in bridging the gap between itself and Israel. He claimed an all-out war was considered remote, but Hezbollah was preparing for it as a real possibility (al-Nour Radio, June 24, 2024).
    • “Informed sources” stated that Hezbollah would not retreat from two “principles” which guided its actions: there would be no peace on the Lebanon-Israel border before a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and there would be no withdrawal, even the smallest, of Hezbollah forces to the north of the Litani River. According to reports Hezbollah expressed willingness to discuss the future situation on the border after a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, on the basis of “guaranteeing Lebanese sovereign rights, including Israel’s withdrawal from the land points which have not been settled” and the cessation of Israeli aircraft sorties in Lebanese airspace. “Close associates” of Hezbollah stated that if Israel tried to carry out a limited ground invasion in south Lebanon, the IDF forces would “be destroyed on the ground” and all of northern Israel would suffer “heavy attacks” which would cause the displacement of a million residents (al-Joumhouria, June 19, 2024).
  • In response to Hezbollah’s threats, Lt. Col. Avichai Adraee, the IDF spokesperson in Arabic, emphasized that Israel’s goal was keep Hezbollah away from the border. He said the IDF was keeping the danger at bay by attacking the organization’s terrorist operatives and groups, as well as Hezbollah’s interests. He noted that the goal would be achieved through “military action, limited or extensive military action or all-out war.” Adraee added that most Lebanese did not want escalation or damage to tourism this summer, but Hezbollah was making the decisions regarding war and peace in Lebanon (Alhurra, June 20, 2024).
  • On June 24, 2024, Adraee published photographs of settlements in south Lebanon as they looked before the start of the current conflict and as they look now. Among the settlements were Aita al-Sha’ab, Tir Harfa, Aitaroun and Blida. He wrote that that was the situation of the villages and towns in south Lebanon because of Hezbollah’s gamble and aggression, which exploited those areas for its own purposes. He addressed the residents and added that it was what the terrorist Hezbollah brought upon you and why you are the losers (Avichai Adraee’s X account, June 24, 2024).
Aitaroun, before and after (Avichai Adraee's X account, June 24, 2024)      Aita al-Sha'ab, before and after.
Right: Aita al-Sha’ab, before and after. Left: Aitaroun, before and after (Avichai Adraee’s X account, June 24, 2024)
Weapons stored at the Beirut airport
  • On June 23, “sources” at Rafiq al-Hariri International Airport in Beirut reported that Hezbollah was storing large quantities of Iranian-made weapons, including Fatah-110 short-range missiles, truck-mounted ballistic missiles, and M-600 missiles with a range of 240 to 320 kilometers (about 150 to 200 miles), Falaq rockets, heavy Burkan rockets, anti-tank missiles and explosives (The Telegraph, June 23, 2024).
  • The report was denied by Lebanese officials:
    • Ali Hamia, Lebanon’s minister of public works and transportation, from the Hezbollah faction, claimed there were no weapons being smuggled through the Rafiq al-Hariri Airport in Beirut. He claimed that Lebanon had begun preparing a lawsuit against the British Telegraph for defaming the “the airport’s reputation.” He added that doubt should not be cast upon the Lebanese customs [officials], who represented the country in protecting the airport in Beirut (al-Jazeera, June 23, 2024).
    • On June 24, 2024, Hamia led a tour of foreign correspondents and ambassadors to the airport. However, according to reports, media coverage was halted after airport security prevented correspondents from photographing the air cargo center, while only the diplomats were allowed to continue (al-Hadath June 24, 2024). After the tour, Hamia said that “the articles have been proven to be false” and that their publication was part of anti-Lebanese psychological warfare (al-Nashra, June 24, 2024).
    • The Air Transport Union in Lebanon (UTA) has stated that no evidence or proof was provided for the claims made in the report, which were deceptions and lies whose objective was to endanger people at the airport (Lebanese News Agency, June 23, 2024).
    • Walid Jumblatt, the former chairman of the Progressive-Socialist Party, said that the British Telegraph and some websites in Lebanon were encouraging war and claiming that Beirut’s airport had become a site for storing weapons and missiles, and that was unreliable and dangerous. He claimed some of the newspapers in Lebanon and abroad wanted war (Waqa’i’, June 23, 2024).
Hezbollah’s Psychological Warfare
Aerial photographs of the Haifa region
  • On June 18, 2024, Hezbollah published a 9:32-minute video, which the organization claims was filmed by a UAV called Hudhud (Hoopoe). It included pictures of the towns to the north of Haifa, the naval base, the Haifa port, the Haifa airport, Iron Dome aerial defense system launchers and oil storage tanks (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18, 2024). Hassan Nasrallah related to the UAV in his speech and claimed it had obtained information for the organization. He noted that the published video was only a short selection of the organization’s many hours of footage, including in areas beyond Haifa (al-Manar, June 18, 2024). The IDF reported that the Israeli Air Force had identified the UAV but had not intercepted it because it was a photo drone without explosives (Israeli media, June 19, 2024).
Identification of an Israeli navy missile ship (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)      Illustration of the UAV.
Right: Illustration of the UAV. Left Identification of an Israeli navy missile ship (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 18, 2024)
  • The Hezbollah-affiliated daily al-Akhbar said the Hudhud was a reconnaissance UAV capable of operating for an extended period of time over a large area and equipped with advanced cameras which can take still photographs and videos and transmit them directly to a control room. According to the report, the publication of the video was intended to send a message to the Israeli public that responsibility for a significant conflict would fall on the government and that Israel had to prepare for attacks that the “resistance” intended to carry out in the event of extensive ground or air operations against Lebanon. The report also stated that it was also a message to Israel’s security establish that the “resistance” had an updated “bank of targets” and the “appropriate” weapons to attack them (al-Akhbar, June 19, 2024).
  • Lebanese political commentator Muhammad Aloush said that Hezbollah chose to first present the documentation to send Israel the message that if it wanted a large-scale military conflict, south and north of the Litani River, Haifa would also become a legitimate target. “Sources” stated that the video was also intended to show that Hezbollah could “see inside Israel” and therefore capable of accurately identifying its targets (al-Nashra, June 20, 2024).
Threat to attack sensitive targets in Israel
  • On June 22, 2024, Hezbollah released a video with Hebrew subtitles of threats to hit strategic targets in Israel. It began with the statement from Hassan Nasrallah’s most recent speech, “If war is imposed on Lebanon, the resistance will fight without limitations, without rules and without reservations.” Afterwards, landmarks and photographs of sensitive sites inside Israel were shown, including the ports of Haifa and Ashdod, the gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, the nuclear reactor in Dimona and the oil refineries in Haifa. At the end of the video, a slide appeared and it read: “Whoever who thinks of war with us will regret it” (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, 22 in June 2024).
From the video (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 22, 2024)     From the video (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 22, 2024)
From the video (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, June 22, 2024)
Internal Lebanese Criticism of Hezbollah
  • Samir Geagea, the chairman of the Lebanese Forces Party, accused Hezbollah of dragging all of Lebanon into alignment with Iranian interests and criticized the “official surrender” of the state institutions to Hezbollah. According to Geagea, many members of the current government belong to or support the “resistance axis,” and therefore are happy about the situation. He added that the government was also responsible for the destruction taking place in Lebanon and that if Prime Minister Mikati saw himself as having no power, he should resign. Geagea warned that the situation in south Lebanon could further deteriorate towards a major escalation, and because the legitimate government was “absent,” Lebanon was marching towards the “unknown” (al-Sharq al-Awsat, June 23, 2024).
  • Ghayat Yazbek, the member of the Lebanese Parliament representing the Lebanese Forces Party, criticized Hezbollah’s threats against Israel. He said that Hezbollah had admitted to itself that its capabilities were limited and that although the organization was capable of causing heavy damage to Israel, it could not change the fact that Israel was a strong country which was also supported by the United States, and was capable of returning Lebanon to the Stone Age (al-Arabiya, June 20, 2024).
Internal Lebanese Affairs
  • In the assessment of the Southern Council for Aid to the Families of the Killed and Displaced, the total damage to buildings and institutions in south Lebanon had reached more than $1 billion, while the damage to infrastructure including water, electricity, health, basic services and roads reached $500 million, in addition to damage to crops, poultry and sheep from fires caused by Israeli attacks. It was also estimated that there were 90,500 displaced persons, that 2,000 homes were completely destroyed and 300 businesses, shops and factories were damaged. The number Lebanese casualties is 455, of whom 336 are Hezbollah operatives, 17 civilians, 18 Amal operatives, ten from Hezbollah’s health organizations, three al-Risala Scouts, five from al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, five paramedics from the emergency center in al-name, three journalists, a soldier from the Lebanese army and an activist of the e Syrian National-Socialist Party (al-Markazia, June 19, 2024).
  • According to the Lebanese Ministry of Health, 95,228 persons have been displaced from in south Lebanon since the beginning of the fighting; and 432 dead and 1,774 injured (nbn, 20 June 2024).
  • Between June 16 and 18, 2024, during the lull in Hezbollah attacks for Eid al-Adha, the Lebanese media reported that civilians went to the border villages in south Lebanon despite the continued Israeli siege (al-Mayadeen, June 18, 2024). The village councils sent messages to the mobile devices of the displaced persons from south Lebanon stating that after coordination with the relevant security services, an “initial formula” had been developed allowing them to visit the graves of the dead in south Lebanon (al-Medan, June 17, 2024).
  Right: Residents visit Maroun al-Ras (al-Mayadeen, June 17, 2024); Center: Ruins of a building in a central area of ​​al-Khiyam (Fouad Khreiss' X account, June 16, 2024); Left: Ruins of buildings in Aita al-Sha'ab (Fouad Khreiss' X account, June 17, 2024)
Right: Residents visit Maroun al-Ras (al-Mayadeen, June 17, 2024); Center: Ruins of a building in a central area of ​​al-Khiyam (Fouad Khreiss’ X account, June 16, 2024); Left: Ruins of buildings in Aita al-Sha’ab (Fouad Khreiss’ X account, June 17, 2024)
The Lebanese Government
The American envoy visits Lebanon
  • On June 18, 2024, American envoy Amos Hochstein arrived for talks in Lebanon in an attempt to prevent further escalation in the fighting. He first met with Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese army, then with Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, with Najib Mikati, the prime minister of the interim government, with Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib and with Tony Kahwaji, head of Lebanese intelligence (Lebanese News Agency, June 18, 2024). According to reports, Hochstein, who had visited Israel a day earlier, warned his Lebanese hosts that the chances of an all-out war would increase unless a political solution were reached. He also noted that the proposal presented by President Joe Biden to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip could help prevent a war in Lebanon as well (al-Sharq al-Awsat, June 19, 2024).
  • Mikati told Hochstein that Lebanon did not want escalation and that it was necessary to stop the Israeli “aggression” against Lebanon and return stability and calm to the southern border. He added that Israel’s threats would not prevent Lebanon from promoting calm, and noted that it was the top priority of Lebanon and of all of Lebanon’s allies. Hochstein noted that it was a dangerous period and that an attempt was being made to find ways to prevent further escalation (Lebanese News Agency, June 18, 2024).
  • Elias Bou Saab, deputy minister and Lebanese deputy foreign ministry, said that Hochstein’s visit was a continuation of what he did in the past in planning for the day after the war in the Gaza Strip in accordance with Biden’s proposal. He said that there were still no signs of a genuine imminent solution, but the United States also believed that the only way to return the displaced to their homes was through diplomatic measures. According to Bou Saab, Hochstein’s mission was to try to prevent war in Lebanon and restore stability to the southern border, noting that Hochstein did not use threatening language towards his Lebanese hosts (al-Nashra, June 20, 2024).
  • The Hezbollah-affiliated daily al-Akhbar quoted a “Lebanese source” who attended the meeting between Berri and Hochstein and who stated that the talks focused only on the danger of the war in the south and that Hochstein was uncertain about the nature of a mechanism which could prevent an escalation in the fighting. According to the “source,” Berri claimed that Israel was responsible for the escalation and asked Hochstein to “convince your friends in Israel” to stop it. “A source familiar with the issue” noted that Hochstein also warned that Hezbollah’s insistence on tying its fate to the fate of the Gaza Strip would not benefit it, because the war in the Gaza Strip would end and Lebanon would pay the price of an escalation that no one would be able to control (al-Akhbar, June 19, 2024).
  • “Political sources” reported that Berri and Hochstein had discussed several ideas for achieving calm, the most prominent of which was to return to the situation in force until the start of the conflict on October 8, 2023, thereby enabling the return of the displaced on both sides of the border. They also discussed the proposal that Hezbollah and Israel stop the use of UAVs and the attacks deep inside each other’s territory (al-Sharq al-Awsat, June 21, 2024).
  • According to Tony Issa in the daily al-Joumhouria, Hochstein presented a three-stage plan to prevent escalation: both sides will return to the rules of engagement in the early stage of the current conflict, with operations that will be focused near the border; the effort to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will be increased, which will also affect the cessation of fighting in Lebanon; the political arrangements regarding the Lebanon-Israel border will be postponed until after a permanent settlement is reached in the war in the Gaza Strip (al-Joumhouria, June 19, 2024).
UNIFIL
  • Candice Ardell, the deputy director of UNIFIL’s information office, called the escalation in the clashes between Israel and Hezbollah “alarming.” She also said that since the beginning of the conflict on October 8, 2023, there had been dozens of instances where UNIFIL positions and vehicles were hit by gunfire in clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, and that there had been several cases of non-serious injuries to UN observers. She warned that an error in judgment could lead to a sudden and more extensive conflict and that “any solution involving violence” would only lead to more victims and destruction on both sides of the border. She added that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was currently facing challenges, but both sides stressed that it remained the most effective working framework for dealing with the current situation and for a long-term settlement. She said UNIFIL continued carrying out missions along the border in an attempt to calm tensions and prevent misunderstandings, and that the UN force would do everything in its power to return to the full implementation of Resolution 1701 (al-Arabiya, June 20, 2024).
  • Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, visited the UNIFIL headquarters in al-Naqoura and met with Aroldo Lazzaro, the commander of the force, and with the UN observers. She noted that their efforts were focused on restoring stability to the border after more than eight months of exchanges of fire which disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of people on both sides. She called on all parties to stop firing and commit to solutions in accordance with Resolution 1701. Lazzaro noted that the UN peacekeepers would continue to implement Resolution 1701 on the ground and maintain contact with both sides through the liaison and coordination mechanisms (UNIFIL website, June 20, 2024).
  • Antonio Guteres, UN secretary general, said he was concerned about the escalation of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, adding that the UN peacekeeping forces were working to calm the situation. He warned that one rash step could lead to a “disaster beyond imagination,” and that the peoples of the region and the world would not be able to bear Lebanon’s turning into a second Gaza Strip. He added that all parties had to adhere to Resolution 1701 and said there was no military solution to the tense situation on the Israel-Lebanon border (al-Jazeera, June 21, 2024).
The Lebanese Army
  • General Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese army, met with Mojataba Amani, the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, and with the Iranian military attaché, Bala Zade, and discussed the situation in Lebanon and the region (Lebanese army X account, June 19, 2024).

Aoun (right) with the Iranian ambassador (Lebanese army X account, June 19, 2024)
Aoun (right) with the Iranian ambassador (Lebanese army X account, June 19, 2024)

  • According to reports, Aoun’s visit to the United States was successful and that members of the Senate expressed a willingness to transfer military aid to Lebanon, as he requested. “Informed sources” said that the atmosphere in the talks was positive and that the agreement to transfer aid to Lebanon was reached despite a Lebanese lobby led by a former minister and an American lobby exerted pressure designed to delay the aid (al-Anbaa, June 21, 2024).
Syria
Actions against Hezbollah
  • On June 19, a “Syrian military source” reported that around 7:00 a.m., Israeli drones attacked two Syrian army sites in al-Quneitra and Dara’a, killing a Syrian army officer and causing material damage (SANA Telegram account, June 19, 2024) The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the targets belonged to the 112th Brigade and that the Syrian army officer had been affiliated with Hezbollah. The Observatory also cited “local sources” in Iran who said that an Israeli aircraft had dropped leaflets intended for “Syrian army commanders and soldiers,” stating that Israel “will not stop its activities as long as cooperation with Hezbollah continues in these areas” (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 19, 2024).
One of the IDF leaflets dropped in the rural areas of Daraa and al-Quneitra (Aknaf's X account, June 19, 2024)
One of the IDF leaflets dropped in the rural areas of Daraa and al-Quneitra (Aknaf’s X account, June 19, 2024)
  • “Local sources” in the rural area west of Damascus said that Hezbollah had ordered its operatives not to use mobile phones while traveling and to limit their use to short conversations, only in cases where it was absolutely necessary. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, after the high alert in the area, redeployment, removing indications of the organization’s presence and the change of military headquarters, Hezbollah took a number of steps, including continuing to hide, flying Syrian flags over several military headquarters and forbidding its commanders to move openly. “Non-governmental sources” in the Homs area stated that the civilian population in the areas where Hezbollah operatives were located was concerned because fearing an aerial attack, vehicles sped across their fields, (al-Sharq al-Awsat, June 19, 2024).
Targeted killing of senior ISIS terrorist operative
  • The American Army’s Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that on June 16, 2024, its forces carried out an airstrike in Syria, killing Usama Jamal Muhammad Ibrahim al-Janabi, who was identified as a “senior ISIS official and facilitator” who was involved carrying out attacks. According to the CENTCOM announcement, his death will disrupt ISIS’s ability to mobilize resources and carry out attacks (CENTCOM X account, June 19, 2024). The “sources” told al-Hadath that the dead is Abu Laith al-Janabi, a senior Iraqi who was in charge of logistics and weapons for ISIS (al-Arabiya, June 20, 2024).

[1] Click https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en to subscribe and receive the ITIC's daily updates as well as its other publications.
[2] The hoopoe, or hudhud, is a mythical bird from the Qur'an which carried messages from Sulayman (Solomon) to the Queen of Sheba.
[3] Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the Palestinian terrorist organizations, the Shi'ite Houthis in Yemen and the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.