Hezbollah’s Exploitation of Israeli Arabs
An endless cycle of criminality and jihad terror.
By Hugh Fitzgerald
Israeli Arabs, though overwhelmingly Sunni, have been increasingly exploited by the Shi’a terror group Hezbollah in its efforts to undermine the state of Israel. This development has the Israel Security Agency worried. More on Hezbollah’s infiltration of Arab Israeli society can be found here: “Hezbollah’s Weaponization of Arab Israelis,” by Yoni Ben Menachem, JNS.org, August 30, 2023:
In recent weeks, the Israel Security Agency apprehended four Arab Israelis from Kafr Qasem and Lod who collaborated with Hezbollah in Lebanon to facilitate weapons smuggling into Israeli territory.
The weapons included large explosive devices manufactured in Iran. The smuggling operation took place through a route often used by terrorist elements, extending from Lebanon to Israel.
The Israel Security Agency’s revelation of a new smuggling route for Iranian-manufactured explosive devices into Israel, coupled with a Hezbollah terrorist’s attack on the Megiddo Junction using a sizeable Iranian-made explosive device on March 13, 2023, indicates an intense push by Hezbollah to embed itself deeper within Arab society in Israel.
Hezbollah is constantly probing the Lebanon-Israel frontier for possible smuggling routes, and apparently it found a new one that allowed the terror group’s operative to smuggle a large Iranian-manufactured explosive that was set off in Israel, at the well-travelled Megiddo Junction this past March, but fortunately killed no one.
Hezbollah has apparently been able to smuggle into Israel Iranian explosives, using a new route from Lebanon into Israel. These are then used both by an occasional Hezbollah operative from Lebanon but more often, are distributed to Israeli Arabs.
Hezbollah has been striving to recruit individuals from Israel’s Arab population for over two decades and has achieved some success….
Examples of Israeli Arabs collaborating with Hezbollah date all the way back to 2000, with Israeli Arab Keis Obeid’s role in the kidnapping of Israeli Col. Elhanan Tannenbaum in Dubai, who was then delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon to be held for a prisoner exchange. It includes, too, the delivery of Israeli military secrets by MK Azmi Bashara to the Lebanese terror group during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, in exchange for money — an act of high treason (Bashara fled the country as soon as his role was exposed).
Security officials believe that Hezbollah is capitalizing on the escalating crime rates within Israel’s Arab community and the demand for weapons and explosive devices among Arab criminal factions engaged in internal conflicts….
The Arab underworld has been convulsed with murders this past year, with more than 160 Israeli Arab criminals killed by fellow Arab criminals since the beginning of 2023, a 40% rise from the number over the same period in 2022. These criminals need guns and explosives, and Hezbollah has been able to provide them, and thereby forge alliances with Israeli Arabs, who in exchange for being supplied with such weaponry to use against rival gangs, have been willing to help Hezbollah to smuggle more weapons, and to store them, for its own future use. The same weapons smuggled into Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah for use by criminal gangs of Israeli Arabs can also be used by terror groups — not just Hezbollah, but also by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That’s what is so worrisome to Israeli authorities.
When Hezbollah supplies Israeli Arab criminal gangs with weapons, it wins their loyalty, and their possible collaboration, at a later date, in attacks against Israel. Hezbollah can also buy loyalty with money, as it did with Azmi Bashara.
Hezbollah believes rightly that Israeli Arabs can provide information on the workings of the Jewish state and its institutions, its airbases, the morale of its military, its economy, the points of political vulnerability and of internal disaffection, among both Israeli Arabs and left-wing Israeli Jews, especially now when the entire country is in constant turmoil because of the battle over judicial reform. It would of course be of enormous value to Hezbollah to learn from Israeli Arabs about such things as Israeli morale, civilian and military, the performance of the Jewish state’s newest defenses against missiles, and the long-term effect on the IDF of the refusal of tens of thousands of IDF reservists to show up for duty.
The same weapons smuggled by Hezbollah into Israel for use by criminal gangs against one another can also be sent on to terrorists in Judea and Samaria. And that’s what keeps the Shin Bet up at night.
Iran’s strategy includes smuggling weapons into northern Samaria through Jordan, alongside substantial financial support for terrorist groups in Samaria, enabling them to procure weapons on the black market from Arab Israelis.
Iran does not send its weapons into Israel only via Hezbollah in Lebanon. It also smuggles them into northern Samaria from Jordan, and in addition, Iran sends money to terror groups so that they can buy weapons from Israeli Arabs, including those who are not members of criminal gangs. Much is available for the right price on Israel’s black market, and Iran has very deep pockets.
On two occasions, Israeli Arab criminals have turned their weaponry on the IDF and Israeli police, in Oct. 2000 and May 2021. They were swept up in the hysteria that resulted from the false charge that “Al-Aqsa is in danger!” No one knows what it would take for the Arab criminal gangs to cease fighting each other and instead to turn their weapons on Israelis. Would it be prompted by the IDF laying a month-long siege to Jenin and Nablus, with hundreds of Palestinians killed? Or a bombing campaign in Gaza to “mow the lawn,” that would level much of the Strip? Or yet another claim that “Al-Aqsa is in danger!,” prompted by another visit by Itamar Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount? The Israelis don’t know if Hezbollah’s attempt to work with criminal gangs of Israeli Arabs to smuggle more weapons into Israel will succeed, but it is now a real worry.