October 20, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Evacuates Northern Communities as Danger of Hezbollah Escalation Grows

October 20, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Evacuates Northern Communities as Danger of Hezbollah Escalation Grows

Latest Developments

More than 20,000 Israelis are evacuating from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, said an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman on October 20. The development comes in the wake of evacuations of multiple communities along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon due to attacks by Hezbollah.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that the evacuations on the northern border allow the IDF to “expand its operational freedom to act against the Hezbollah terrorist organization.” On October 20, the IDF also intercepted a target headed toward Israeli airspace and struck a Hezbollah post in Lebanon.

Expert Analysis

“The impact of the Hezbollah strikes on Israel, primarily with anti-tank missiles, has now forced a change in Israeli posture. The measure is designed to save lives. But Hezbollah will soon reach a point of no return with the Israelis. There will be a limit to what Israel will absorb.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has thus far chosen to slowly raise the level of tension along the Lebanon-Israel border. The reasons for this decision are unclear. Hezbollah may be unprepared for a full-scale conflict with Israel, or it may simply be taking a patient approach. However, should Hezbollah ultimately decide to escalate the situation, it is likely that the group will receive backing from other members of the Resistance Axis on additional fronts.” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Dozens of Israeli Communities Evacuated

The evacuation comes after Kiryat Shmona was targeted by 30 rockets on October 19, moderately wounding a father and his daughter. The same day, the Israeli government approved emergency funds to help relocate Ashkelon residents without access to a bomb shelter. Ashkelon, which is in the south of Israel, receives frequent rocket barrages from Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israel had already begun the evacuation of communities within 2 kilometers of the Lebanese border earlier in the week as rocket attacks from Hezbollah continued.  

Hezbollah and Israel have been trading blows since Hamas’ invasion of southern Israel on October 7. The clashes involve Hezbollah launching rockets, drones, mortars, and anti-tank missiles at Israeli towns and positions along the northern border. The IDF has responded by eliminating Hezbollah positions, weapons caches, and militants.

Iran Armed Hezbollah With Advanced Weapons

Iran provides Hezbollah with a reported $700 million annually, in addition to arms, training, and strategic assistance. Despite a demilitarized zone set up on the Lebanese border after the 2006 Lebanon War, United Nations troops have been unable to prevent Hezbollah’s operations. The terrorist organization has positioned an estimated 150,000 rockets in southern Lebanon, most of which are concealed in civilian infrastructure. Hezbollah also possesses drones and precision-guided munitions (PGM) that can change course during flight and hit within 10 meters of their intended target.

Israel’s picturesque, ghostly North awaits next phase of war,” by Seth Frantzman

Tensions Escalate Along Lebanese Border as Israel Evacuates 28 Communities,” FDD Flash Brief

Attacks on Israel Part of Iran’s Ring of Fire Strategy,” FDD Flash Brief


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