The first gathering, held in the Hippodrome in Tyre (Twitter accounts of Muhammed Baqer and Maya123, July 1, 2022).
The first gathering, held in the Hippodrome in Tyre (Twitter accounts of Muhammed Baqer and Maya123, July 1, 2022).
Ali, the son of shaheed Muhammad al-Azi (killed on the Lebanese-Syrian border in June 2017), with a picture of his father and wearing a headband distributed to the children of shaheeds by the Shaheed Foundation. It reads, "Babi Shaheed [the Imam Mahdi], at your orders!" (Twitter account of Hadi al-Azi, July 6, 2022).
Wounded activist Mahdi Shayito wearing an Imam Mahdi Scouts uniform (Twitter account of Mahdi Shayito, July 1, 2022).
The Ahmed Jibril memorial in the Iranian Garden in Maroun al-Ras (al-Manar, July 9, 2022).
Farid Fouad Mustafa (Facebook page of the Office of Shaheeds in the Quneitra district, July 6, 2022).
Farid Mustafa's coffin (Ali al-A'or's Facebook page, July 7, 2022).
- The dispute over natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea: Senior Hezbollah figures and the Hezbollah-affiliated media continued to justify the July 2, 2022, launching of drones (intercepted by Israel) to the area of the Karish gas rig, and claimed the Americans were employing delaying tactics.
- To mark the 40th anniversary of Hezbollah’s founding, tourist routes were opened along sites of important events in the organization’s history with Israel and in south Lebanon.
- Hezbollah’s civilian activity in south Lebanon continued, including the exploitation of a factory fire to increase the organization’s influence in a Shi’ite village affiliated with the Amal Movement.
- Hezbollah’s youth movement, the al-Mahdi Scouts, held a public singalong in honor of the Imam al-Mahdi to create solidarity between Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon and Shi’ite communities around the world, in a show of loyalty to the Iranian Islamic Revolution.
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, continued his visit to Lebanon. Hezbollah’s media outlets praised the Hamas movement for its increasing involvement in the “resistance axis” [i.e., Iran, Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli Shi’ite organizations and movements].
- A Syrian army commander was killed in the Golan Heights village of Hader in an aerial attack attributed to Israel. Opponents of the Syrian regime claim he collaborated with Hezbollah and Iran.
Hezbollah and Lebanon
The dispute over exploring for natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea
- Since the Israeli interception of the drones launched at the Karish gas field on July 2, 2022, senior Hezbollah figures and the Hezbollah-affiliated media outlets have continued supporting the organization’s position against what they consider a Lebanese surrender to external dictates. They claimed theirs was the “national position” and that Lebanon had to realize its rights to the off-shore gas field. Despite Lebanon’s political instability, Hezbollah continues its brinksmanship, threatening to use force against the Karish gas rig and against Israel.
- Hashem Safi al-Din, chairman of Hezbollah’s Operational Council, said if Lebanon waited for handouts from Hochstein [Amos Hochstein, the American mediator for the naval border negotiations between Israel and Lebanon], it would receive neither gas nor oil and its economic situation would not improve. He claimed the Americans were only interested in supplying Europe with gas and oil and preserving Israel’s regional superiority (al-‘Ahad, June 29, 2022).
- Sheikh Na’im Qassem, deputy Hezbollah leader, called for the formation of a new government capable of improving the lot of the Lebanese people, and reiterated Lebanon’s “justified demand” for rights to its oil and natural gas. He said Lebanon was not weak, could defend its rights and had to demand them without compromise (al-‘Ahad, July 5, 2022).
- Sheikh Muhammad Yazbek, chairman of Hezbollah’s religious council, gave the Friday sermon at the shrine of al-Saida Khwala in Baalbek. He noted that the American administration was employing delaying tactics to prevent Lebanon from enjoying its rights to its oil and gas, and to help “the enemy” [Israel] exploit the Karish gas field. He claimed the Americans and Israel had to understand the message of the drones, that Lebanon and its “resistance” [i.e., Hezbollah] would not waive their rights (al-‘Ahad, July 8, 2022).
- Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, a member of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, claimed at a religious ceremony in the village of al-Khayam that thanks to the “equations,” the shaheeds and the achievements of the “resistance” [Hezbollah] for the past 40 years, Lebanon was currently Israel’s strongest and most important opponent. He added that the “resistance” was a “strategic resource” and Lebanon’s defender, served Lebanon’s interests, and preserved its honor and natural resources. He added that the drone message had been conveyed at the right time and place and its effect had been rapid. The message, he claimed, had been “completely national” and its objectives Lebanese, and it was in no way connected to the Iranian negotiations or the visits of American statesmen (al-‘Ahad, July 9, 2022).
- Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Hezbollah-affiliated daily newspaper al-Akhbar, wrote an editorial about the natural gas exploration off the coast of Lebanon. He noted “quiet security tension” along “Lebanon’s southern border,” and related to Israel’s response to Lebanon’s proposal, as transmitted by [American envoy] Amos Hochstein. He claimed Lebanon rejected Israel’s attempts to retain part of the Qana gas field and refused to continue negotiating through a mediator, insisting on returning to negotiations in Naquora in south Lebanon (al-Akhbar website, July 1, 2022).
- Ayman Bashir, a reporter for al-Akhbar, wrote that according to UNIFIL sources, American battleships had arrived at the Karish field to secure the rig, while British spy planes and NATO aircraft flew over the area off the coast of Lebanon. In addition, he claimed, France, Britain and Germany recommended that Lebanon not escalate the situation further. They explained to Lebanon that Israel was producing energy that Europe needed and was part of global energy security. Israel therefore received international support and Hezbollah’s threats were ineffective. However, the Europeans said they were trying to convince the Israelis to reach an arrangement what would enable Lebanon to begin energy production to cope with the country’s dire economic crisis (Ayman Bashir’s Twitter account, June 30, 2022).
- In a later report al-Akhbar claimed that only after Hezbollah had launched the drones did serious negotiations for delineating Lebanon’s naval border begin (al-Akhbar website, July 8, 2022).
- Bahraini newscaster Nazir Harb, who works for a pro-Iranian TV channel broadcasting from London, reported that Hezbollah had recently instituted overt measures on the ground to counter Israel’s “responses and aggression.” Hezbollah’s objective was to prove the seriousness of Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to attack the vessel carrying out the gas exploration. According to Harb, Hezbollah had undertaken the quasi-military exercise to show Israel he was capable of carrying out the mission. He added that Hezbollah was currently prepared and waiting for one of two commands from its leadership: to attack if “Israel’s aggression goes too far,” or to retreat if Israel “surrenders” (Nazir Harb’s Twitter account, June 29, 2022).
- Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, said it was more important for Lebanon to be able to explore for and produce gas than to solve the issue of delineating its naval border. He said Lebanon had to adhere to the “no gas from Karish without gas from [the Lebanese gas field of] Qana,” and not allow Israel to produce gas as long as Lebanon could not produce it (al-‘Ahad, July 5, 2022).
- Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he expected Lebanon to reach an agreement with Israel regarding the delineation of Lebanon’s naval border this coming September (al-Alam website, July 3, 2022).
Fortieth anniversary of Hezbollah’s founding
- To mark the 40th anniversary of Hezbollah’s founding, the organization announced the opening of several jihadi tourism routes in Lebanon. They pass sites connected to the history of the “resistance” [Hezbollah] in Lebanon, for example, locations where Hezbollah carried out suicide bombing attacks and the graves of shaheeds, picnic areas and nature reserves. Mustafa Biram, the minister of labor in the Lebanese interim government, sponsored the ceremony opening the routes. Among the sites noted at the ceremony were the military administration building and IDF and Border Police headquarters in Tyre [where two suicide bombing attacks were carried out, one in 1982 and the other in 1983]; the memorial of the shaheed Bashir Alwiyah, killed during the Second Lebanon War; the site where a helicopter was downed during the Second Lebanon War, and others (al-‘Ahad, June 27, 2022).
Map of the routes (al-‘Ahad website, June 27, 2022).
- The civil defense unit of Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Organization held an exercise in the al-Hush neighborhood in Tyre called “Forty years of service to its people.” It was sponsored by Hassan Izz al-Din, a Lebanese parliamentarian, and attended by senior figures in Hezbollah’s civilian network. Hassan Izz al-Din gave a speech praising the Islamic Health Organization’s civil defense unit and the help if provided to operatives of the “military wing,” sometimes endangering and even losing their lives. He said the “resistance” [Hezbollah] was prepared to deal with every “foolish or aggressive” action Israel could think of (al-‘Ahad website, July 6, 2022).
Hezbollah’s civilian activity
- After the fire that broke out in a carpet factory in the south Lebanon village of Zefta, the Help One Another association, which began as a network of Hezbollah supporters, initiated a campaign to help the factory workers. According to Afif Shuman, association chairman, more than 300 workers lost their livelihoods in the fire. Therefore, association representatives would make the Zefta local council their headquarters and record requests for help regarding medicine, hospitalization, food, etc. In addition, the organization would provide emergency funds, and in collaboration with the Lebanese ministry of labor, try to place them in temporary positions until the factory renewed its activity (Afif Shuman’s Twitter account, July 8-9, 2022). Note: Amal and Hezbollah are rivals for power in Zefta, which generally identifies with Amal. The Help One Another’s aid was apparently Hezbollah’s exploitation of an opportunity to increase its influence.
- The Islamic Health Organization opened new medical center in the village of Jwaya, and the cornerstone was laid for its Imam al-Mahdi medical center in the village of al-Ghazi (al-‘Ahad website, June 27 and July 6, 2022). In March 2022 a medical center was opened in the village of al-Marwanieh (Islamic Health Organization website, March 6, 2022). In 2021 and 2022 the organization’s civil defense unit opened several centers, including medical centers; all of its activity was in south Lebanon (Sawt al-Farah website, March 7, 2021, Oh Tyre! website, April 6, 2021; al-Manar website, December 10, 2022; Wad Press website, April 27, 2022).
- The seventh annual local foods and handicrafts fair was opened in the Iranian Garden in the village of Maroun al-Ras, which lies close to the Israeli-Lebanese border. Sponsored by the Jihad al-Bina Association and the union of local councils in the Bint Jbeil district, it was called “Everything good from my land” (Facebook page of the union of local councils in the Bint Jbeil district, July 7, 2022; al-‘Ahad website, July 9, 2022). It is held every year and enables famers and small businessmen, who receive aid from the Jihad al-Bina Association, to come together and sell their products.
- The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts invited the public to singalongs to perform the song, “The Imam is my era” in honor of the Imam al-Mahdi. So far the events have been held in Tyre, south Lebanon Beirut, Baalbek and north Lebanon between July 1 and 8, 2022 (others are expected to be held during the month). According to the invitation, the event is meant to unite the people and create solidarity between Hezbollah supporters and the supporters of the Iranian axis in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, and other country (al-‘Ahad website, June 27, 2022).
- The al-Mahdi school network accepted the invitation and its schools in Tyre and al-Nabi Chit taught pupils the words to the song. Other members of Hezbollah’s civilian network joined the initiative, including women’s organizations and the al-Maaref Islamic Culture Association (Twitter account of Abu Hassan, July 6, 2022; Twitter account of Rim, July 9, 2022).
- The objective of the song, which was originally written in Persian, was to connect the younger generation to Imam al-Mahdi. It was recently translated into Lebanese Arabic, has been spread by the al-Mahdi Scouts and is sung during their ceremonies (al-Akhbar website, June 26, 2022).
- The significance of the singalongs:
- Solidarity with the “resistance axis:” The singalong is one of a series of events, initiatives and measures instituted around the end of 2018 to create solidarity among the individuals in the various societies that compose the “axis of resistance,” for example, fund-raising in Lebanon to help children who were injured in the war in Yemen and in natural disasters in Iran.
- Popular support: The singalongs are important displays of Hezbollah power which illustrate its ability to motivate large numbers of activists and supporters to take action (Twitter account of Qassem S. Qassem, July 6, 2022).
- Preserving the unity of the “resistance society:” For more than two years there have been almost no funerals of Hezbollah operatives, and this type of event can serve as a replacement for the support and unity usually seen at funerals.
- Timing: The timing does not seem to be related to events in the Mahdi’s life, since he was supposedly born in March, but the intention may have been to hold them around the time of the hajj to Mecca.
- Composition of the “resistance society:” The singalongs are another opportunity for Hezbollah to glorify the core of the “resistance society,” which received considerable attention and were attended by senior clerics, relatives of shaheeds and wounded operatives (al-‘Ahad website, July 6, 2022).
The first gathering, held in the Hippodrome in Tyre
(Twitter accounts of Muhammed Baqer and Maya123, July 1, 2022).
One of the public songfests attended by Shi’ites from around the world, including Iran, Britain, Bahrain, Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq, India, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Tanzania and Myanmar (Twitter account of Hezbollah Youth, July 2, 2022).
Right: Ali, the son of shaheed Muhammad al-Azi (killed on the Lebanese-Syrian border in June 2017), with a picture of his father and wearing a headband distributed to the children of shaheeds by the Shaheed Foundation. It reads, “Babi Shaheed [the Imam Mahdi], at your orders!” (Twitter account of Hadi al-Azi, July 6, 2022). Left: Wounded activist Mahdi Shayito wearing an Imam Mahdi Scouts uniform (Twitter account of Mahdi Shayito, July 1, 2022).
Iranian embassy activity in Lebanon
- The Amal Movement Lebanon held an event in honor of Mohammad-Jalal Firouznia, the outgoing Iranian ambassador to Beirut. Many senior Hezbollah, Amal, Shi’ite clerics, diplomats and Lebanese government officials attended (al-‘Ahad website, June 30, 2022).
- The Iranian embassy in Lebanon marked the 40th anniversary of the abduction of four Iranian diplomats by the Lebanese Phalanges in July 1982. The event was held at the Imam Khomeini Cultural Center in the Dahia, the Hezbollah-controlled Shi’ite southern suburb of Beirut. In attendance were representatives of senior clerics of various Lebanese sectors and of the Lebanese security forces, figures representing Hezbollah in the parliament and other senior officials. The Iranian ambassador, Mohammad-Jalal Firouznia, claimed Israel had been responsible for the diplomats’ abduction, voiced his appreciation for the efforts of the Lebanese government in the matter over the years and called on the international community to do what it was supposed to, find out what happened to them (al-‘Ahad website, July 5, 2022).
Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria
Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, visits Lebanon
- Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Akhbar, devoted his June 28, 2022, editorial to Isma’il Haniyeh’s visit to Lebanon. The editorial was entitled, “Hamas at the heart of the resistance axis.” He praised Hamas for choosing to give preference to “resistance” [anti-Israeli terrorist activities] to the “occupation.” The choice, he said, had paved the way for Hamas to rehabilitate its relations with the Arab-Muslim world, even internationally, based on cooperation with the “resistance.” According to al-Amin, the turning point for Hamas came during the war in 2014 [Operation Protective Edge]. It was intensified with the appointment of the new leadership in 2017, after which the initiative was passed over to the military wing and preference was given to “resistance” [attacking Israel].
- Al-Amin added that during the past two years Hamas had made a great leap forward, and was now positioned at the heart of the “resistance.” The “Sword of Jerusalem” operation [Operation Guardian of the Walls] had examined practical collaboration with the axis’ main forces. He called on Hamas to reinforce its position further in the “resistance axis,” claiming that the more the movement demonstrated its adherence to the “option of resistance,” the stronger it would be in “Palestine”, and the more active and present in the Arab world. After his visit and the nature of the discussions and understandings he had reached with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the “resistance axis” would face a new reality [sic] (al-Akhbar website, June 28, 2022).
The Palestinian organizations in Lebanon
- Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah held a series of meetings with representatives of two of the Palestinian organizations in Lebanon: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Headquarters (PFLP-GH) (Jibril), headed by Talal Naji; and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (Habash), headed by deputy head Jamil Mazhar. Nasrallah discussed events and the political and security situations in “Palestine,” the results of the “Sword of Jerusalem” operation [Operation Guardian of the Walls] and the immediate future of “Palestine” and the Middle East (Twitter account of Yunes al-Zatari and the al-‘Ahad website, June 29, 2022).
- The PFLP-GH marked the anniversary of the death of its founder and leader Ahmed Jibril with a memorial ceremony in the Iranian Garden in the village of Maroun al-Ras, which lies near the Israeli-Lebanese border. A memorial to Jibril was unveiled in the presence of representatives of Hezbollah, the Palestinian organizations and the Iranian embassy in Lebanon (al-‘Ahad website, July 8, 2022).
The Ahmed Jibril memorial in the Iranian Garden in Maroun al-Ras (al-Manar, July 9, 2022).
Iranian Activity in Syria
- According to reports from the opponents of the Syrian regime, Farid Fouad Mustafa, a Syrian army commander, was killed in an Israeli attack near the Israeli-Syrian border on the outskirts of Quneitra. According to the sources, the Israelis attacked close to his house in the al-Marj area west of the village of Hader, on the night of July 5, 2022. Local sources reported that Mustafa, 46, a Druze nicknamed “the scorpion,” was a Syrian army commander who collaborated with Hezbollah and planned attacks on Israeli posts and positions in the Golan Heights. He was also said to have contacts with Iranian commanders (orient.net, July 7, 2022).
- According to local reporter Ali al-A’or, Mustafa was the 18th shaheed attacked by Israel in Hader since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. He described Mustafa as a “civilian” who had borne arms since the beginning of the civil war to defend his village, and had been wounded several times (Ali al-A’or’s Facebook page, July 7, 2022). Note: In the past there were many reports of the killing of operatives in the area because they collaborated with Hezbollah or followed Iran’s orders to establish a network for hostile terrorist activity, among them Samir Kuntar [whose killing was attributed to Israel and claimed by the Free Syrian Army] and Jihad Mughnieh.
Right: Farid Fouad Mustafa (Facebook page of the Office of Shaheeds in the Quneitra district, July 6, 2022). Left: Farid Mustafa’s coffin (Ali al-A’or’s Facebook page, July 7, 2022).
- The Syrian news agency Sana reported the seizure of a large number of Captagon pills (Fenethylline, an amphetamine), ready for smuggling into Jordan, had in a truck on the main Damascus-Daraa road (al-Alam website, June 30, 2022). Opponents of the Syrian regime reported that on June 29 and 30 at least three drug dealers had been killed in the villages of al-Ajami and Da’al in the Daraa region (syria.tv website, June 30, 2022). In recent weeks claims have been made by Jordan regarding the involvement of the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias in south Lebanon in smuggling drugs into the country. According to the reports, the Syrian regime has been operating to stop the smuggling.
- A senior Jordanian source strongly denied the posts to the social networks regarding the establishment of a safe zone [for smugglers] on the Jordanian-Syrian border. The source added that nothing of the sort had ever been proposed and Jordan had no intention of establishing such a zone.
 In Islamic mythology/eschatology, the Mahdi, the 11th Imam, is a descendant of Muhammad who will reappear and lead Muslims to rule the world. ↑
 For further information about Hezbollah's launching of spy drones to the region of the Karish gas field, see the July 6, 2022 bulletin, "Reactions to Israel's interception of Hezbollah espionage drones near the Karish gas field – Updated to July 6, 2022." ↑
 The daughter of the Shi'ite Imam al-Husayn, Muhammad's grandson. ↑
 For further information about jihadi tourism, see the October 7, 2019 bulletin, "Jihadi tourism: visits to battle legacy sites and shahid tombs as an indoctrination tool for spreading Hezbollah’s ideology." ↑
 For further information about the Islamic Health Organization, see the August 15, 2019 bulletin, "The Islamic Health Organization: Hezbollah institution providing health services to Hezbollah operatives and the Shiite population in general as a means for gaining influence and creating a Shiite mini-state within Lebanon." ↑
 For further information about the Jihad al-Bina Association, see the July 12, 2019 bulletin, "Jihad al-Bina Association in Lebanon: A Hezbollah social foundation engaged in construction and social projects among the Shiite community, being a major component in Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure." ↑
 For further information about the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, see the July11, 2019 bulletin, "The Imam Al-Mahdi Scouts Association: Hezbollah’s youth movement which indoctrinates youth with Iranian radical Shiite Islam and serves as a source of youngsters who join Hezbollah." ↑
 For further information see the August 1, 2019 bulletin, "Art and culture used by Hezbollah as instruments of indoctrination." ↑
 For further information see the May 23, 2019 bulletin, "Hezbollah’s socioeconomic foundations: Al-Qard al-Hasan, a quasi-bank that provides interest-free loans, mainly to members of the Shiite community." ↑
 Wadah Shrara, The State of Hezbollah; Lebanon as an Islamic Society, [Arabic], Dar al-Nahar, Beirut, 2006. ↑