Israel launches information war against Hezbollah
If you click on the Israeli army’s new Hezbollah website, you will see a red and black logo that reads, “Hezbollah, Army of Terror.” The site is a combination of graphics, text and videos, all focusing on the Lebanese-based, Iran-proxy terrorist organization and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Na’srallah.
One link refers back to what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and in fact, the site was launched on the seventh anniversary of that 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel that was triggered by a cross-border raid by Hezbollah fighters that left eight Israeli soldiers dead and two captured. It ended with a United Nations – brokered cease-fire.
The website warns that Hezbollah today is stronger than ever.
“Seven years later, Hezbollah has developed capabilities to strike anywhere in Israel,” it says.
A neon-green graphic that follows the text shows the different weapons Hezbollah now in its arsenal and how far each one is able to reach. The missile with the longest range, the Scud-D, can travel more than 430 miles, potentially penetrating deep into Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as Israel, as well as targeting American military assets in the region.
“Since the war, Hezbollah has tripled the size of its missile arsenal,” the website says. “In 2009, an IDF intelligence report revealed that Hezbollah had built close to 1,000 military facilities throughout southern Lebanon. The installations included more than 550 weapons bunkers and 300 underground facilities. Since the report’s release, Hezbollah has continued to build facilities in the region, enhancing its ability to strike at nearby Israeli towns and cities.”
The website says that Israel is in more danger than ever before.
“Hezbollah’s weapons are capable of causing far more substantial damage than its 2006 arsenal,” the website continues. “With its current abilities, Hezbollah is capable of bombarding Israel with continuous, precise attacks over an extended period of time.”
The website is the product of Israel’s new interactive media branch, a spin-off from the IDF Spokesman’s Unit. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, the head of the new branch, says some 30 soldiers work there, and put out content in English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian. Two of the soldiers, she says, are native Egyptians who moved to Israel about seven years ago.
“This is the first time a military invests in such a platform using confidential information.” Leibovich told The Media Line. “When information will be interesting and high quality it will create a buzz about Hezbollah, and raise awareness about this organization that is sitting on our border with 60,000 rockets [pointed in Israel’s direction].”
Leibovich said some of the information came from classified sources, including combat intelligence troops based on the Lebanese border.
On the other side of the border, however, Lebanese journalists were not impressed with the website.
“This is the kind of information that any person can get on the Web,” Farid Chedid, the editor of Lebanon Wire told The Media Line. “There is nothing new – it’s just a compilation of anti-Hezbollah propaganda.”
In Lebanon, Chedid says, Hezbollah is seen as an Iranian proxy, but it also runs a network of schools and clinics, providing salaries to thousands of Lebanese and social services to many more.
The website was put together by Pvt. Gabriel Freund, 25, an immigrant to Israel from Australia with a background in computer graphics.
“We tried to tell the story of the terrorist organization Hezbollah to the world in a way that is easy to share,” Freund told The Media Line. “We tried to make it as interactive as possible. You can see it is user friendly and you can easily access different parts of the site.”
The website also includes animations and videos showing how Hezbollah uses civilian homes from which to launch weapons. It was launched as Israel has undertaken a campaign to convince more of the international community to define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Seven states, including the U.S. and Israel already define Hezbollah that way.
Leibovich says the interactive media branch has gained a large following with 340,000 followers on Facebook and more than 35 million page views on YouTube.
“This initiative shows the military has to adapt to a new media war zone which is interactive media,” Leibovich said.
A similar website on Hamas is currently being planned. The Hezbollah website can be found at http://www.idfblog.com/hezbollah/