“Proxy wars”: Hamas and Hezbollah
Iran funds, arms, trains and supports terrorist regimes and organizations that wreak murder and chaos around the globe. Their most prominent client-organizations, however, are Hamas and Hezbollah, through which Iran is able to wage “proxy war” against the Jewish state. Though Iran has never directly engaged Israeli militarily, Israel’s last wars were fought against irregular forces acting at Iran’s behest.
Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, a narrow band of land on Israel’s southeast border, and Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon, which borders Israel on the north.
For years, Hamas used its Iranian funds and technology to launch vicious terrorist assaults on the Jewish state, murdering and injuring thousands of civilians. Once it seized control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas began bombarding southern Israeli cities with thousands of missiles until, in December 2008, IDF forces invaded the strip to stop the missiles.
Technically a “political party,” Hezbollah is a terrorist group that became the first Arab or Muslim group able to claim a real victory over Israel: Following years of Hezbollah’s guerilla warfare, in 2000, Israeli forces unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon, which they had patrolled for more nearly two decades in order to prevent shelling of northern Israel from the region.
Following the withdrawal—which was the group’s stated purpose—Hezbollah continued guerilla attacks and occasional incursions into Israel, in addition to launching rockets and missiles at northern cities. Other tactics include erecting large billboards visible across the border with graphic photos of the bodies or body parts of dead Israeli soldiers, or photos of missing soldiers, that mocked and threatened the IDF, the Israeli government, and the Israeli people.
In July 2006, Hezbollah launched yet another attack on Israeli soldiers stationed at the border, killing three and kidnapping two. Israeli forces invaded, seeking the two soldiers, while Hezbollah began bombarding Israeli towns — the worst attacks since the nation’s founding. One million residents of the Galilee fled or sat in shelters for a month. More than 150 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed and Hezbollah did not return the two soldiers, whom Hezbollah claimed were alive. The soldiers’ fate was not known until their bodies were returned in a prisoner swap two years later. Israeli authorities believe they were killed in the initial attack.