Will Hezbollah shift attention from Lebanon protests by attacking Israel?

Hariri went against Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s orders.

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah and Amal movement gesture as they ride in a car in Marjayoun  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah and Amal movement gesture as they ride in a car in Marjayoun
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is watching its neighbor to the north closely following the announcement on Tuesday by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that he is resigning after nearly two weeks of nonviolent protests in Beirut and elsewhere across Lebanon.
Hariri’s resignation came shortly after protesters in the Lebanese capital were attacked by thugs belonging to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, two groups which have stated that they were against his resignation.
Hariri defied Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s orders. Prior to his resignation, Nasrallah rejected the idea, as well of any move to topple President Michel Aoun, saying the country would be in chaos if such a scenario happened.
“In view of the difficult financial, economic and living situation in the country, in view of security and political tensions that are prevailing in the region... a vacuum will lead to chaos, to collapse,” Nasrallah said, adding that the demonstrations have been exploited by regional and international foes. “I am afraid that there are those who want to take our country and generate social, security and political tensions and to take it to civil war.”
Lebanese Interior Minister Raya Haffar El Hassan took to Twitter, saying that Hariri’s resignation was “necessary to prevent civil infighting” like what happened earlier on Tuesday.
But Hariri is just one of the many of the officials being called upon to step down by the mass protests.
There are still many more, the political elite who are accused by the streets of corruption, and mismanagement of the state finances which have led Lebanon to spiral into an economic collapse not seen since the civil war of 1975 to 1990, which resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities.
The chants of “all means all” were clearly heard from the streets of Lebanon following Hariri’s resignation.
Lebanon is angry, and the protests are unlikely to die down anytime soon – unless Hezbollah send its goons out in force stronger than seen on Tuesday.
Formed in the 1980s with the help of Iran as a resistance group against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is embedded within the Lebanese politics and society. Tens of thousands of Lebanese Shi’ites rely on the group for social, medical and financial support.
While Nasrallah has vowed not to turn Hezbollah’s guns on the people of Lebanon, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Hariri’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, was murdered by a car bomb in 2005 blamed on Syria and Hezbollah. Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops, was born out of the anger of Hariri’s assassination.
Fourteen years later, the streets have spoken once again and their voices cannot be ignored. Not even by Hezbollah, Israel’s most dangerous enemy after Iran.
The world’s preeminent terrorist group has today morphed into a terrorist army, with a massive arsenal of advanced weaponry provided by its Iranian patrons, and thousands of battle-hardened fighters whose combat skills were honed in Syria’s eight-year-long civil war.
Those advanced weapons, including the group’s precision missile project, have been targeted by the Jewish state, which has been carrying out airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria, and according to foreign reports, in other countries, since 2013.
In late July, the IAF struck an Iranian cell planning to launch a drone attack against northern Israel, killing two Hezbollah operatives. Several days later, Israel was blamed for a drone attack on Hezbollah in its Beirut stronghold, which, according to a report by The Times, targeted Hezbollah’s precision missile project, including crates with machinery to mix high-grade propellant for precision guided missiles.
On September 1, the first day back to school in Israel, Hezbollah fired a Kornet anti-tank missile toward an IDF vehicle in northern Israel in retaliation.
Tensions in Israel’s North have yet to dissipate, and the continued instability of Lebanon has many wondering, what now?
While the streets are not calling for Nasrallah’s resignation (to be fair, can the leader of a terrorist group step down?), the violence of his supporters are not gaining him anything. So what will Nasrallah do? Will he try to shift attention away from the protests in Lebanon by attacking Israel?
What would Hezbollah gain from that?