Hezbollah defeated Israel in 2006. Can it do so again in 2023?

John Wight
5 min readOct 16, 2023

The army that conquers makes certain of victory, and then seeks battle — Sun Tzu

Tensions on the border between Israel and Lebanon in the wake of Hamas’s incursion into southern Israel of 7th October have escalated into clashes between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah, as the former prepares to launch its ground invasion of Gaza. With this in mind, and with the stakes involved taken into account, it seems now to be a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Hezbollah opens up a northern front against Israel.

It was always inevitable that this would be the case. Ever since the month-long conflict between Hezbollah and Israel of July-August 2006, both have been preparing for the next one, reviewing and upgrading their respective capabilities, tactics and training with precisely what is unfolding now key in their forward planning.

Glaringly absent from the welter of analyses by pro-Israel think tanks across the West on the coming conflict between the Shia resistance movement and the IDF has been the crucial factor separating both. Said crucial factor lies on the level not of preparedness but psychology. And it is here where Hezbollah holds the advantage.

Put more simply, in 2006 Hezbollah battered the Israelis to the point of abject humiliation. It was the first ever military defeat of the much and hugely-vaunted Israeli military by an Arab army, and its impact has done much to inform the morale of both ever since.

Alastair Crooke is a former MI6 — UK foreign intelligence — operative now based in Beirut, where he founded the peace advocacy organisation, Conflicts Forum. His analysis of the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel conflict remains unsurpassed.

Crooke:

Much to their surprise, Hezbollah commanders found that Israeli troops were poorly organized and disciplined. The only Israeli unit that performed up to standards was the Golani Brigade, according to Lebanese observers. The IDF was “a motley assortment”, one official with a deep knowledge of US slang reported. But that’s what happens when you have spent four decades firing rubber bullets at women and children in the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover:

IDF commanders were also…

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John Wight

Writing on politics, culture, sport and whatever else. Please consider taking out a subscription at https://medium.com/@johnwight1/membership