In contrast to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the escalation against Hezbollah has so far been concentrated in the border area with Lebanon. However, volleys of dozens of rockets are not even a curiosity for realizing the capabilities of the Shiite terrorist organization.
Despite Tehran’s involvement, which was expressed in the meeting of Hezbollah Secretary General at the weekend with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdellihan in Beirut, Nasrallah is aware that the destruction from the Second Lebanon War is burned into the memory and consciousness of the Lebanese people. He remembers how he tried to explain that his organization “did not expect, even in -1%” because the kidnapping of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev will lead to a war on the scale of 2006.
Lebanon is a politically and politically crushed country, and the World Bank has already defined the economic crisis in the country, which reached insolvency about four years ago, as one of the most severe since the middle of the 19th century. In December, the annual inflation rate in Lebanon was “only” about 192%, after about 268% in April, and in an attempt to deal with the constant erosion of the Lebanese pound – citizens find their confidence in crypto-graphic currencies.
From the Israeli point of view, one of the problems in this situation is that even before the war – the economic crisis of the northern neighbor will “fuel” the recruitment of citizens from the weaker strata into the ranks of Hezbollah. Today, the monthly salary of a soldier in the Lebanese army is about 150 dollars, while Hezbollah soldiers enjoy a monthly salary of about 1,300 dollars. This may explain how Hezbollah reached, according to estimates, 60,000-100,000 soldiers.
center of agricultural activity
To Nasrallah’s dismay, the fighting at the current intensity in southern Lebanon is also causing serious damage to the devastated economy in Mila. According to “A-Shark Al-Awast”, the extent of damages in southern Lebanon in the first four months of the war amounted to 1.2 billion dollars. Most of the damages resulted from damage to infrastructure, roads, buildings and agricultural lands. At the same time, damages amounting to approximately 300 million dollars were caused as a result of closing institutions and shutting down businesses in southern Lebanon, while more than 86,000 people were evacuated from the area, according to UN data. Those citizens were evacuated from approximately 87 villages and towns, with the largest number of those leaving He was from the Tzur region: about 27 thousand.
Similar to what is happening in Israel, the evacuations affect the entire economy of Lebanon, since the south of the country is a focus of agricultural activity. A significant part of the tobacco, about 22% of the fruits and about 38% of the olives in Lebanon come from the south. In fact, about 5,000 tons out of about 25,000 tons of olive oil produced every year in Lebanon come from the war zone.
“Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, with a jihadist, military identity, but at the same time it also has a state identity. It presents itself as the ‘defender of Lebanon,'” Dr. Carmit Valancy, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), tells Globes. Tel Aviv University, and head of the Northern Arena program at the institute. “We call it a ‘hybrid entity’: a social and political organization with a political arm, and ministers in the Lebanese government. Nasrallah’s system of considerations is more complicated, because he is attentive to public opinion.”
In Beirut, they are worried about the human damage to the successful tourism industry, which accounts for about 20% of the GDP. Immediately after the escalation, countries issued travel warnings to Lebanon – and airlines stopped visiting the “Rafik Hariri” port in the capital. The national airline “Middle East Airlines” cut its scope 80% activity following the reduction of insurance coverage.
Determining the land border
“The potential for the destruction of Lebanon, when the country is in continuous economic chaos, is a reason why, despite the difficult days of battle, this is not the war with Hezbollah,” explains Dr. Valancy. “Those who know Nasrallah and follow his speeches, understand that he still has a moderate attitude measure”.
The economic consequences of the fighting on both sides give the Americans reason to be optimistic that the efforts of the mediator Amos Hochstein will yield calm.
According to the emerging outline, Hezbollah will not withdraw beyond the Litani River, similar to Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War, but to a distance of about 8-10 km from the border – and UNIFIL forces and the Lebanese Army will enter the space. If and when this outline is successful, the goal in Washington will be to move to the second phase where the land border between the countries will be determined.
Today, Israel and Lebanon share 13 points along the border between the countries, from the Matula area in the east to point 1-B.
According to Beirut’s position, when Israel withdrew from the security zone in 2000 – it annexed a small area from the international border crossing to Nakura to its territory. The Americans hope that about a year and a half after they managed to reach a maritime border agreement with Israel, they will be able to leverage the situation to resolve these disputes as well.
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