In complete secrecy and under civilian cover: the Lebanese branch of Hamas

The terrorist organization has also built a military force on Lebanese soil: Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of Hamas, recruited several hundred Lebanese and had them trained by Iranian officials. The Lebanese unit is directly subordinate to the leadership abroad and its operatives are currently engaged in rocket production. The concern in Israel: During a confrontation with Gaza, the branch will create another front for the IDF

A new Hamas-made threat: The terrorist organization, it turns out, is not keeping quiet about the yeast. In recent years, Hamas has secretly set up a branch of its military arm, designed to create another front for Israel, in the event of a military confrontation with Gaza. The forces’ baptism of fire took place during Operation Wall Guard, during which members of the Lebanese branch fired rockets at the north.

The decision to establish the northern branch was made in 2014, following Operation Eitan, in which the Hamas leadership found itself in Gaza alone in the battle against Israel, without outside military assistance. This paved the way for the establishment of a military force on Lebanese soil that would be an integral part of and subordinate to the organization. The project’s project manager, who directed and directed the establishment of the branch, appointed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, who skips between Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon.

In the first phase, it was decided to build a military force aimed at harassing Israel by firing rockets from Lebanon, thereby effectively creating another arena for it. Hamas understood that this was not a balancing act, but a tool that would allow it to divert Israel’s attention during a conflict in Gaza.

For the establishment of the new military force, Palestinian activists were recruited who are ideologically identified with the organization and live in Lebanon, mainly around Tyre. The number of activists is estimated at several hundred, and they operate in secret, under civilian cover. Tire now also houses the center of the spur, but it seems to have bases of activity elsewhere in Lebanon as well. The organizational structure in the new unit is hierarchical and orderly. Although it is in contact with Gaza Hamas, it is not directly subordinate to it and receives orders from the Hamas leadership abroad only.

The Hamas branch in Lebanon received training and rocket training from Iranian sources and is currently mainly engaged in the self-production of rockets for tens of kilometers. They fund the activity, among other things, through smuggling and drug trafficking. According to Hamas’ vision, in the future the unit should also possess more advanced means such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Hezbollah is of course aware of the activities of the Hamas military branch in Lebanon and has also given the green light for its establishment. But in terms of power relations between the organizations, Hezbollah has the ability to veto the branch to the extent that it does not approve its firing from Lebanese territory. In Israel, the new force was not initially given too much significance. However, following the rocket fire that his men carried out during the recent operation in the Gaza Strip, the defense establishment began to monitor its activities more closely.

The main concern today is the firing of a large number of rockets from the northern branch during a military escalation in Gaza, which will require a strong Israeli response in Lebanon and may also drag Hezbollah into the arena. The worst case scenario includes launching another campaign in the northern arena, in which Israel and Hezbollah were not interested at all. The fear became realistic after Hamas fired two rockets from Lebanon in July, one of which was intercepted by an Iron Dome and the other fell into the sea – although Hezbollah did not approve the shooting and was not updated about it.

By Editor

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