In 2006 the Israeli IDF faced at max a 1,500 force strong Hezb Allah that was reestablishing its doctrine after the liberation of southern Lebanon in 2000. Hezb Allah understood that 2000 was not the end and that Israel is going to launch new wars, and so since Day One Hezb Allah’s commander Imad Moghneigh spearheaded the effort of Hezb Allah to train, to supply, and to fortify. This became public after Moghneigh was assassinated in 2008 as some of his videos became public.
Like it or not, Hezb Allah defeated Israel in 2006 by solely being able to survive post the war and not allowing Israel to achieve any of its objectives in that war. This is not an opinion, it’s an established fact and a consensus among everybody knowledgeable of that war, including USA and IDF officers.
Israel lost that war because its leadership was immature and inexperienced, the MOD was not of a military background, and the chief of staff general Dan Halutz thought he was playing the role of General Malcolm ‘Ace’ Granger from Generals Zero Hour. He thought he can win the war by air force only. Add to that, this led to delaying any major ground military operations by the IDF and restricted them to just raids. This gave Hezb Allah time to deploy their reserves and fortify their positions before the invasion.
Moreover, the IDF pre-2006 endorsed a new war doctrine that none actually understood and which got scrapped later on.
On the other hand, the IDF faced actual problems in terms of training its infantry and tank crews. In 2006 not a single smoke screen was deployed by the untrained IDF tank crews. On the other hand, the infantry did not only lack training as they were busy countering low violence level counter-attack incidents in the West Bank and Gaza, but they also lacked in gear. The IDF reserve troop’s gear was in bad condition.
The war then ended after 34 days, where the IDF killed 1,191 civilians and wounded 4,409 others. The IDF killed 136 Hezbullah soldiers only out of the presumed 1,500 who were present and who mostly did not actively engage with the enemy. The IDF lost 121 soldiers and 1,244 others injured, out of those up to 30% were tank crew members.
IDF knew how bad its forces’ conduct during the war was and set a goal to rethink its strategy and to learn from its mistakes, and so it proved in the limited Gaza war in 2008-2009. However, those two fronts are very different and any results there cannot be understood as positive outcomes if they were to be set as a model in the Lebanese scenario. Gaza is besieged and has no access to money and weapons unlike Hezb Allah who does, and most importantly South Lebanon is much larger and its mountains and trees present Hezb Allah with the upper hand in defending unlike Gaza’s plain terrain and weak beach soil-based ground.
Years passed and Hezb Allah started like 2000 to upgrade their weapons and training but the death of Moghniegh was a big blow. However, Hezb Allah is not a one-man organization and his death or even the future death of any other commander or leader won’t affect the goals or actions of the organization. One of the routes of supplying Hezb Allah was the sea where the IDF stopped a large shipment of weapons on 4 November 2009 in the Francop Affair.
The IDF seized 9,000 mortar shells, 2,125 107-mm Katyusha rockets, 685 rocket fuses, 690 122-mm rockets, 21,100 F-1 fragmentation hand grenades, and 566,220 AK-47 rounds. The Israeli military said that the shipment was equivalent to about ten percent of Hezb Allah’s stocks. The arms shipment was the largest ever seized by Israel.
Then came 2011 and the US-led War of Terror against Syria started. The fall of Syria to the terrorists effectively meant Hezb Allah is surrounded from the north and east by a pro Israel new Syrian government and from the south by Israel itself. Add to that, the fall of Syria meant that the anti Syrian 2011 Lebanese government, spearheaded by Saad Al Hariri who was arming the Al Qaeda terrorists in Homs through the ports of Tripoli, was able to confront Hezb Allah through the US-backed Lebanese army. It was a tough situation and nothing short of existence defining.
Hezb Allah then effectively since 2012 started to formulate plans on how to secure the borders and how to assist the Syrian army in defending the critical area near the capital and other places. However, it was clear that without securing the border and then mounting an offensive, Syria will be facing further dangers. And so Hezb Allah mounted its first-ever offensive battle with the aim of aiding the Syrian Army in liberating the countryside of Qussayr district and the city of Qussayr in Homs province. Hezb Allah used its Ridwan forces and its volunteers. The Syrian Army with Hezb Allah liberated in less than a couple of months an area of 598 square kilometers fortified with thousands of well trained Al Qaeda suicide terrorists who composed mainly of foreign fighters. Hezb Allah in their first offensive battle used artillery, mortars, tanks, jets piloted by SAA-AF, drones, and was able to coordinate a war effort with others. Hezb Allah lost up to 49 soldiers the first day and up to 210 soldiers by the end of the 3 weeks of the city liberation but liberated an area 9 times bigger than Haifa, 11 times bigger than Tel-Aviv, 46 times bigger than Acre, and 1/7th of what would be considered north of Israel.
2013, 2014, and then 2015 Hezb Allah along with the Syrian army, Iran’s IRGC, Afghanistan’s Fatimiyoun, Pakistan’s Zeinabiyoun, and Iraq’s PMF (aka PMU) coordinated the battles effort and distributed roles and tasks over 185,180 km² sized Syria. Not only did Hezb Allah move from a war doctrine that was focused on defending a well-fortified 1,000 km2 sized south Lebanon alone, to mounting and planning offensives in Syria and Iraq, but to coordinating a war effort that involves groups that differ in language, training, and expertise, and effectively use a variety of weapons together. Not only this, but Hezb Allah was also able to manage logistics and training for its own fighters, and assist Syrian army soldiers, Iraqi PMF, and even dispatch experts to Yemen to assist the Ansar Allah movement against the USA-backed KSA-UAE war.
It is true that Hezb Allah lost up to 1,500 fighters and a group of its most prominent leaders like Mustafa Badriddine, its highest military commander, the leader of the Ridwan units, Ali Al Asheq, the special forces leader Ali Fayad, and other prominent field commanders, but the experience its fighters gained from regulars to volunteers can not be outweighed. Up to 10,000-20,000 fighters have witnessed war and fought in mountains and deserts against tens of thousands of ideologically brainwashed and radicalized enemies. So what do we conclude about this all?
Hezb Allah alongside Iran was able to unite a front that was un-united before 2011 and was able to access all the Syrian army weapon storage including whatever Russia might have supplied Syria and was able to effectively secure its land passage from Iran to Syria through Iraq and avoid using the sea.
However, when we look at the other side, the IDF, we have to mention few points.
Since 2009 and passing through the 2014 war in Gaza, the IDF faced a far inferior enemy in a non-fortified and besieged area. The IDF was successful in those limited campaigns but since then its forces have been stuck with fighting low violence level attacks and limited airstrikes on assorted targets in Syria. So if you notice, the IDF is in the same position it was in pre-2006 if not even worse. In both cases, the IDF is heavily relying on the air force being the only force seeing real combat, if we even consider those airstrikes on Syria as combat, and its soldiers are only dealing with low violence level danger and not real combat.
What is also worth mentioning is that the IDF in 2006 was full of soldiers with experience who fought and knew Lebanon, unlike the new fresh soldiers who have not set a foot in these lands and have not seen real combat. The only difference is that the IDF now has a worthy of his position commander in the position of the chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, who took training of his infantry and tank crews as his own personal crusade. But everyone knows training is something and actual fighting in a war against a battle-hardened martyrdom loving enemy that will use IEDs, mines, mortars, ATGMs trenches, caves, and many surprises is not the same. If 2006’s surprise was the 9M133 kornet and C-803 NOOR, what would you expect to see post 2020.
The Axis of resistance is united and when Israel starts the war, it won’t end with Hezb Allah fighting alone and south Lebanon being the only front. This should be common knowledge by now as the IDF started to train on how to operate in a two-front war. They should but who said it would be only a two-front war.
The next war is to be the last war, when only one will survive it let that be Israel or the Axis. The power massed by Hezb Allah poses a danger Israel did not face in its 72 years of existence and the power massed by Hezb Allah’s allies that are waiting for that war is unmatched. When Hezb Allah’s Secretary-General Sayed Hasan Nasrallah said the next war will witness 10’s of thousand, no 100’s of thousands of fighters other than Hezb Allah fighters, he was not talking out of delusion and the IDF knows this but is still uncomfortable believing it could happen.
Do you think that the IRGC is willing to spend millions and keep rebuilding its bases in Syria for merely building bases in a no man’s desert? Do you think the Afghans in the Golan there are having a summer vacation or the Syrian Hezb Allah. Do you think the visits of Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis and Qais al Khazali to the Lebanese Israeli border is for nothing?
The next war will be started by Israel and we will witness weeks of depletion of IDF forces trying to attack Lebanon until Hezb Allah inflicts enough damage on the attackers to start their own offensive and only to be then safeguarded by fresh fighters pouring in from the Golan front when Israel will be trying to manage a 3 front war from Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon.
Hezb Allah does not live with the thought of a war that it will need to rebuild after and then prepare for another, it is time to set things straight. How will it end? In enough damage that will lead to a national referendum that will define the new name and government of this holy land.
What will the USA do? Only time will tell, but a direct USA engagement will mean a direct Iranian engagement in the Gulf, where all USA bases are in sitting ducks the range of Iran’s IRGC’s missiles. It will not be worthy of history-changing war if it stays confined.
The Quds Day is when one would truly learn about how the future will unfold.