Since the October 7, 2023, terror attack by Hamas on Israel that killed over 1,200 people, there have been near-daily attacks by Hezbollah, another Iranian-backed terror group based in Lebanon. 

Over the last eight months, Israel and Hezbollah have engaged in a low-intensity battle along the border, but fears of an escalation are growing. In fact, Hezbollah reportedly has as many as 150,000 missiles and rockets pointed at Israel.

Here is what to know about Hezbollah, its ties with Hamas, and the Israel-Hamas war. 

What is Hezbollah's role in the Israel-Hamas War? 

Since October 8, Hezbollah has fired more than 5,000 rockets, anti-tank missiles, and explosive UAVs at Israeli civilian and military targets. In response, Israel has struck at least 4,500 Hezbollah targets in both Lebanon and Syria, killing more than 300 Hezbollah terrorists, including some senior commanders. On the Israeli side, ten civilians and up to 18 IDF soldiers and reservists have been killed by Hezbollah, in addition to the hundreds killed by Hamas.

At least 60,000 Israelis have been evacuated from the northern border since October 8, due to the Hezbollah threat. More than 2,700 acres, much of them forest preserve, have been burnt as Hezbollah rockets spark fires in the north.

While there has been a long list of Hezbollah attacks, the growing frequency and intensity of attacks appear to be escalating in recent weeks, with the IDF vowing a more forceful response. 

On February 8, Hezbollah fired 30 rockets at northern Israel, just hours after an Israeli drone hit a Hezbollah senior commander. That strike was reportedly in retaliation for an earlier Hezbollah launch at an Israeli military base that wounded three IDF soldiers. 

On February 12, two Israelis were seriously wounded when a Hezbollah rocket hit the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona. Two days later on February 14, another Hezbollah barrage killed one person and injured at least eight in a strike on the Israeli city of Safed and a nearby army base. 

Since then, Israel has stepped up attacks in northeastern Lebanon's Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold. 

On February 26, Hezbollah claimed to fire 60 rockets at an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights. The strike was reportedly in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley that killed at least two Hezbollah terrorists, in what was reported to be the deepest attack into Lebanese territory since October 8. 

On March 12, Hezbollah fired more than 100 rockets into northern Israel. 

Recently, Hezbollah fired one of its heaviest barrages yet, firing 150 rockets into northern Israel after Israel killed Abu Taleb and three other Hezbollah fighters on June 11. Taleb is the most senior Hezbollah official killed since this round of fighting began.

Shortly after, on June 20, Hezbollah blasted northern Israel with about 45 rockets after a Hezbollah field commander was murdered in an Israeli drone strike.

Top Israeli officials have repeatedly threatened to go to war in Lebanon following the IDF’s campaign to rescue hostages and dismantle Hamas in Gaza, to push Hezbollah away from the border, north to the Litani River, per UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was enacted to end the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The head of the IDF’s Northern Command Maj-Gen. Ori Gordin has indicated that the IDF’s goal “to change the security situation in the north in a way that will allow the residents to return safely and with a sense of security,” and said that the IDF is continuing “to prepare for the expansion of the war and going on the offensive.” 

What is the political situation in Lebanon? 

Due to decades of corruption and sectarianism, the political and security situation in Lebanon is unstable and complex. The Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah is one reason why. More on Hezbollah is in the section below.

In August 2020, a massive explosion at the port of Beirut caused widespread destruction and led to political unrest, with many Lebanese blaming the government for the negligence that led to the explosion.

In October 2020, the Lebanese government resigned in response to widespread protests and pressure from the international community. Since then, the country has struggled to form a new government, with various political factions vying for power and struggling to agree on a new cabinet.

Lebanon is still without a fully functioning government. The prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati, has been attempting to form a new government for months.

The absence of a government has exacerbated Lebanon's already dire economic situation, with the country facing severe shortages of essential goods and services, including fuel, electricity, and medical supplies. The ongoing political crisis and economic collapse have led to protests and social unrest in Lebanon, with many Lebanese calling for a change in the country's political system and the end of corruption and sectarianism.

What is Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon?

Hezbollah has been involved in Lebanese politics since the early 1990s and has been represented in the Lebanese parliament since 1992.

The Iranian-backed terror organization has been able to gain political power in Lebanon through a combination of popular support from Lebanon's Shi’ite Muslim community, which represents the largest religious faction in the country, and its military strength thanks to support from Iran, which has allowed it to maintain a significant influence in Lebanon's political affairs.

Currently, Hezbollah holds seats in the Lebanese parliament and has representation in the current caretaker government, including two ministerial positions. 

Hezbollah's involvement in Lebanese politics has been controversial within the country, with the terror organization using its political power to advance its own interests and undermine the sovereignty of the Lebanese state. Furthermore, Hezbollah is seen as Iran's proxy in Lebanon, and the terror organization has been able to maintain a significant military and political presence in the country thanks in part to Iran's backing.

What is Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Connection to Lebanon?

Lebanon has a significant population of Palestinian refugees who have been living in the country for decades. Lebanon has refused to grant these Palestinians citizenship, and as such, they have been stuck as permanent refugees for several decades. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) estimates that there are some 470,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon.

Israeli officials have for several years warned about Hamas’s increasing role in Lebanon. According to a memo from former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, “Hamas has been building its own military force covertly in Lebanon. Hamas has recruited and trained hundreds of fighters, mostly men of Palestinian origin.”

Saleh Al-Arouri, the founding commander of Hamas’s military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was reportedly behind the April 2023 rocket attacks from Lebanon. Al-Arouri, who used to be based in Turkey full-time, was assassinated in an Israeli drone strike in January 2024 in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of Hezbollah. 

What is the connection between Hamas and Hezbollah?

Amid the rocket attacks on Israel in April 2023, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh along with other senior Hamas officials, including Saleh Al-Arouri, met with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, where the two terror factions discussed deepening cooperation, including intensified “resistance in the West Bank and Gaza” as well as the “readiness of the axis of resistance,” referring to Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, and other Iranian-backed terror groups in the Middle East. 

While Hamas and Hezbollah are both terrorist organizations that share a common goal of destroying Israel, there are some important differences between the groups. Hamas is primarily a Palestinian organization based in the Gaza Strip, while Hezbollah is a Lebanese organization with a strong presence in Southern Lebanon. 

Hamas is an offshoot of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, while Hezbollah is a Shi’ite Muslim organization that shares close religious and strategic ties with Iran. Hamas’s primary focus is on the Palestinian issue and the establishment of a Palestinian state and the eradication of Israel. While Hezbollah is similarly dedicated to the eradication of Israel, it also has a broader regional and international agenda through its ties with Iran. Hezbollah has been involved in the civil war in Syria as well as carrying out terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Latin America such as the 1994 AMIA bombing, the Burgas terror attack in Bulgaria, and elsewhere. AJC has been at the forefront of encouraging the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. 

Despite these differences, Hamas and Hezbollah have maintained close ties and have provided each other with support over the years. Iran, a key supporter of both terror organizations, has played a significant role in facilitating this relationship. Hezbollah has reportedly provided Hamas with training and weapons, while Hamas has offered political and moral support to Hezbollah in its conflicts with Israel.

How does Iran support Hamas and Hezbollah?

Iran has long been known to provide support to both Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran's support for these groups is part of its broader strategy to increase its influence in the region and counter the influence of Israel and the United States. It sees these groups as proxies that can carry out its interests and goals in the region, including opposing the West and calling for Israel’s destruction. 

To support Hamas, Iran provides financial aid, weapons, and training. Hamas is based in Gaza, a Palestinian territory that is bordered by Egypt and Israel. Its border with Israel is under a security blockade, so Iran’s support is crucial for Hamas to maintain its military capabilities. Iran provides Hamas with rocket technology and expertise, including advanced training, which has enabled Hamas to launch rockets into Israel during conflicts.

As for Hezbollah, Iran has been its main supporter and patron since the terror group was founded in the early 1980s. Iran provides financial support, weapons, and training to Hezbollah. Iran has also been known to provide Hezbollah with rockets and other advanced military technology, which has allowed the group to launch attacks against Israel and maintain a significant military presence in Lebanon.