November 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hezbollah Leader Praises Hamas, Avoids Escalation

November 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hezbollah Leader Praises Hamas, Avoids Escalation

Latest Developments

The leader of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah threatened Israel and the United States during a speech on November 3 but stopped short of declaring an all-out war. Speaking from an unknown location for approximately an hour and a half, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah heaped praise on Hamas for its October 7 attack against Israel and glorified what he described as Palestinian “martyrs.”

While avoiding a declaration of war for now, Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah has already come to Hamas’s assistance through its ongoing clashes with Israeli troops on the Israel-Lebanon border. Nasrallah also warned the United States and Israel that Hezbollah is prepared for “all options” if the Israel-Hamas war continues, asserting that Hezbollah is not scared of the two aircraft carriers Washington has sent to the region.

Expert Analysis

“It is a big mistake to assume that Hezbollah is deterred and will stay out of the war. Too many thought wrongly that Hamas was deterred when it stayed out of previous conflicts between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will be deterred only by the clear demonstration of American power, which requires more than impressive military capabilities. It requires the demonstration of military intention, which demands using American force against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Otherwise, the Gaza war will erupt on the northern border and beyond.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Nasrallah’s much-anticipated speech was mostly a regurgitation of old talking points. What’s new is his claim Hezbollah’s low-level attacks on northern Israel were evidence it has already been in the heat of battle against Israel since October 8. While Nasrallah left open the possibility of future escalation, he was deliberately vague, suggesting Hezbollah remains too constrained by Lebanon’s economic collapse to open a second front against Israel. Israel, therefore, possesses the initiative — if it chooses to take it. But Hezbollah’s irresponsible brinksmanship along the Israeli-Lebanese border risks bringing about disastrous consequences for Lebanon the group may not intend.” David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

Nasrallah Dubiously Claims Iran Not Involved in October 7 Massacre

Most of Nasrallah’s speech focused on justifying Hamas’s attack on Israel. Nasrallah claimed that Hamas alone ordered and implemented the October 7 assault and did not communicate its plans with its backers in Tehran or other Iran-backed groups, including Hezbollah. “This proves the conflict is completely Palestinian,” said Nasrallah.

Nasrallah’s account contradicts reporting by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that Iran played an integral role in the preparations for October 7. According to The Journal, Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps trained 500 Hamas terrorists in Iran before the group attacked Israel, while Iranian officials authorized Hamas’s attack over the course of several meetings in Beirut. The Times spoke with Iranian sources who “said that a tight circle of leaders from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas helped plan the attack starting over a year ago, trained militants and had advanced knowledge of it.”

The State Department has reported that Iran provides most of Hezbollah’s annual budget, amounting to “hundreds of millions of dollars.” In April, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant alleged that Iran sends Hezbollah $700 million per year along with “knowledge and strategic weaponry.”

Hezbollah’s Military Capabilities

Under Iran’s patronage, Hezbollah expanded its military capabilities since it last fought Israel in a 34-day war in 2006. Hezbollah possesses approximately 150,000 rockets and missiles, including hundreds of precision-guided munitions. A large barrage of Hezbollah rockets could overwhelm Israeli air defense systems as they continue to combat rocket fire from Gaza.

10 Things to Know About Hezbollah,” FDD Insights

Hezbollah Increases Attacks on Israel With Rockets, Missiles,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Fighters Trained with Iranian Forces Before Israel Attack,” FDD Flash Brief


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