Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during last day of Ashura, in Beirut, Lebanon September 20, 2018.
(photo credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)
As ISIS and al-Qaeda dominated headlines surrounding the omnipotent threat of global jihad in recent years, the international community’s memory appears to have dulled to the dangers of one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in history: Hezbollah, responsible for the large-scale murders of civilians, soldiers and diplomats across the globe over the course of a 36-year reign of terror.
Under the patronage of Iran, Hezbollah has blazed a worldwide murderous path with the declared objective of obliterating the State of Israel and combating “American imperialism.” Today, Hezbollah remains an immediate danger to Western society in general, and to Israel and Jewish communities in particular.
The United States, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council are among the handful that formally recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Others – including the European Union and the United Kingdom – have designated only the military wing that implements the terrorism as such, giving a free pass to the political arm that masterminds it. In Latin America, a hub of Hezbollah activity, it has no terrorist designation at all. And in Lebanon, Hezbollah has shockingly emerged as a significant – and legitimized – political force, complete with parliamentary and ministerial representation.
Hezbollah’s track record is horrific. The Buenos Aires attacks on the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish center in 1994 killed 114 people collectively, Jews and non-Jews alike; the 2012 attack in Burgas claimed the lives of five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver; 21 people were killed in the 1994 hijacking of Alas Chiricanas Flight 901 in Panama; and as far back as 1983, Hezbollah killed 241 US Marines, 58 French paratroopers and six civilians in a single attack on the military barracks in Beirut; that same year, 63 people, including 17 Americans, were murdered in a suicide bombing at the US Embassy in Beirut. These are just a few terrifying examples.
Since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has accumulated an immense arsenal of rockets and missiles, greater than most conventional armies. These weapons are embedded in villages and concealed in the homes of innocent civilians coerced into cooperation by Hezbollah terrorists.
Perhaps the recent discovery of four clandestine Hezbollah tunnels, similarly dug beneath the homes of Lebanese civilians and stretching into sovereign Israeli territory in clear violation of international law and norms – including UN Resolution 1701 – will serve as a wake-up call to the international community that the murderous Hezbollah machine is alive and well, and as dangerous as ever.
The evidence is irrefutable. These tunnels were dug to ferry terrorists, arms and vehicles with the goal of killing innocent Israelis and overtaking their communities along the border. The very location of the tunnels, beneath residential buildings, proves once again that Hezbollah’s leaders have no qualms in using their own people as human shields and camouflage to murder Israeli civilians and Jews worldwide.
To finance its operations, Hezbollah operatives are integral to transnational organized crime and terrorism, smuggling drugs, diamonds and cigarettes, and counterfeiting and laundering money. Hundreds of Hezbollah cells outside of Lebanon have been seized over the years, stretching as far as the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
But Hezbollah’s main financial and military support comes from Iran. The terror organization’s raison d’être is to execute the Islamic Republic’s hegemonic ambitions across the Middle East – carrying out its dirty work and serving as its outpost in the Mediterranean theater. Its mercenaries continue to train militias and fight on Iran’s behalf in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The Iranian-Hezbollah axis has prolonged these wars and caused the deaths of millions of people across the Middle East, and the displacement of tens of millions more.
And still, much of the international community has turned a blind eye to the magnitude and geographic extent of Hezbollah’s crimes. Imagine if the EU or the UN were to argue that only the military operation of ISIS – and not its political leadership – should be designated a terrorist organization. The world would protest fiercely. And yet, Hezbollah has slipped under the radar.
The UN Security Council convened Wednesday to discuss Hezbollah’s tunneling operations and confirmed that the tunnels violate international law and infringe upon Israel’s sovereignty. Let’s hope this meeting, and the evidence presented, will lead the international community to exert the necessary pressure and take action to quell this terror.
As US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan so poignantly said in Washington last week: “To effectively counter terrorist threats, we need to consider collaboration across a broader range of actors.” And indeed, the first step to countering terrorism is recognizing the terrorist organizations at play.
The very real and imminent threat Hezbollah poses must be exposed once and for all. The EU, the UN, the Organization of American States and all other influential international bodies must stop treating Hezbollah as though it has a split personality and recognize that it is a single terrorist entity, and one of the greatest threats to peace, security and stability in the world today.Robert Singer is the CEO and executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress, representing more than 100 Jewish communities on six continents, under the leadership of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder.
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