Lebanon is once again being subjected to threats of a new war by the Israeli government. Their claim, this time, is that Iran is about to build a precision missile factory in Lebanon and that such an action would cross Israel’s ‘red line.’ Israel is the most technically advanced military on earth. It is not only supplied militarily by the US, it has its own thriving weapons-producing industry which boasts its weapons as “battle-tested,” having proven their efficacy in Israel’s repeated assaults on Gaza.

If Israel can produce some of the most lethal weapons in the world without condemnation, why then doesn’t Hezbollah in Lebanon have the right to build up its own defense arsenal as a deterrent to renewed Israeli aggression, particularly since Lebanon has already been subjected to five major Israeli invasions?

Is it because Israel claims Hezbollah is a terrorist organization? “Terrorist” is a useful rhetorical bludgeon that the US has repeatedly wielded to outlaw or de-humanize radical or revolutionary groups. The PLO was labeled for years by the US and Israel as a terrorist group just as Hamas and Hezbollah are now. Nelson Mandela before them was, for decades, called a dangerous terrorist. Israel claims Hezbollah a terrorist group because it wants a reason to destroy them. As I explained in The Syrian, when George W. Bush declared in his war on terrorism-that you are either with us or against us- Israel joined in on the act and demanded the US declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and insisted it give up its arms.

Is Hezbollah a terrorist organization? According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, Hezbollah is a home-grown resistance movement born out of an illegal twenty-two-year Israeli occupation of large swaths of South Lebanon. Hezbollah is often associated with the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983 and the Marine barracks in October of the same year. Robert Baer, a former CIA agent with extensive experience in Lebanon, claims it was Iran who carried out these acts and it became a political issue in the US because the Israelis wanted the Americans to go after Hezbollah.

Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the Lebanese government to ward off Israeli aggression? Normally, it would be, but the Lebanese army is not capable of defending the county against an Israeli attack. The US gives Israel over $3 billion annually in military aid. The US gives the Lebanese Army pittance in aid and that aid is not allowed to be used against Israel, another reason there’s popular support for a non-state resistance movement like Hezbollah, which is capable of facing off with Israel. And why most Lebanese argue that Hezbollah should never give up its arms because it is Lebanon’s only deterrent against another Israeli attack.

Why does Israel look for any excuse to attack Hezbollah? Because it threw Israel out of south Lebanon in 2000. No Arab force before has ever dealt Israel such a humiliating blow, but that’s just part of the equation. Geopolitically, there’s a much larger issue at play-the proxy war between the US and Iran. Using Israel to attack Hezbollah is an indirect attack on Iran, since they are the ones who back Hezbollah. But the real target is Syria. It is the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah. In order to weaken both Iran and Hezbollah, so the thinking goes, the US and Israel must destroy Syria. Complicating matters even more is the question of religion. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf nations, mostly Sunni, support the US and Israel’s attempt to destroy the three Shiite entities-Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. They fear a Shiite revival and want to maintain their Sunni dominance over the region.

Recently, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman, Brig. Gen. Roan Manelis said that Hezbollah’s actions are turning Lebanon into a powder keg. According to him, one of every three homes in south Lebanon is a command post, position, weapons warehouse or hiding place for Hezbollah. We know these assets and will know how to attack them accurately if necessary. The future of the people of Lebanon is to be pawns in the hands of the dictator from Tehran.” This is the same nation (Iran) that has not attacked another country in over 500 years. And, Manelis’ IDF command, after the July 2006 war, had to admit that most of the rockets fired against Israel were launched from nature reserves and not from urban areas.

“Any upcoming battle depends on two parameters,” Manelis said. “Whether Lebanon and the international community will permit Iran and Hezbollah to exploit the naiveté of the Lebanese leaders and set up a precision missile plant, as they are currently trying to do; and whether Hezbollah, under the auspices of the new election system, will manage to elbow out the Sunni camp in the upcoming May 2018 elections and officially turn the country into an Iranian client state. The Israeli army is ready and prepared for any scenario and will be improving its military readiness.”

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