Israel Kills Hezbollah Leaders Ahead of Elections

HOT TOPICS ▶ Target: Iran     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  January 21, 2015

Israel Kills Hezbollah Leaders Ahead of Elections

Research economist Shir Hever says Israel's aggression is intentionally timed with Israel's elections, distracting the electorate from domestic economic issues
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Honest, truthful, never doublespeak, news. - Elin
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Shir Hever is an economist working at The Real News Network. His economic research focuses on Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory; international aid to the Palestinians and to Israel; the effects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the Israeli economy; and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel. His first book: Political Economy of Israel's Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation, was published by Pluto Press.


JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

On Sunday, an Israeli helicopter strike in Syria targeted and killed leaders from Lebanon's Hezbollah. Major blowback could lead to reprisal attacks.

Now joining us to unpack the significance of this strike is Shir Hever. Shir joins us from Germany, where he's an economic researcher for the Alternative Information Center.

Thank you for joining us, Shir.


DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, just first explain for us what the members of Hezbollah were even doing in Syria.

HEVER: Ever since the war, the civil war in Syria started in 2011, there's been a coalition of forces that work together to try to topple the Assad regime in Syria. And the Hezbollah movement has decided to side with Assad against this coalition. And that also has something to do with the fact that Hezbollah is partially supported by Iran. And Iraq has also tried to support Assad.

Now, the interesting thing is that after years of fighting in Syria, the position of the United States has shifted. The United States' original position was to try to help the rebels against Assad. But when some of these rebels turned out to be an even greater problem for U.S. foreign policy in the region, namely, ISIS, the Islamic State, then suddenly it changed the political scenery somewhat. And Hezbollah is now, in a way, fighting on the side of the United States.

DESVARIEUX: And how so, Shir? Just really quickly.

HEVER: Well, they're supporting the Assad regime. The Assad regime is actually trying to fight against ISIS. And ISIS, which is now taking over large areas of Syria and Iraq, is now considered to be perhaps a more serious enemy of United States interests in the region. So, all of a sudden we have Iran and Syria and Hezbollah fighting on the side that is--you could almost call it the pro-U.S. side.

Hezbollah is a very well-trained group of fighters. They're not an official army. They don't have all the trappings of a Western army. But they've proven themselves quite capable in fighting the Israeli army in several wars, and they are being supplied with weapons by Iraq.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Let's talk about Israel and their interests and motives behind this strike. How does this relate to the upcoming elections that are going to be happening in March?

HEVER: The very sad reality of the Middle East these days is that every time there's an election in Israel, people have to die for it in neighboring countries or in the occupied Palestinian territory. This is a repeating process that, unfortunately, we see with every election in Israel, because the various groups within Israel, the various political groups, vie for votes, and they know that they cannot give any kind of optimistic message on the social level. They cannot promise the Israeli public that they're going to improve their socioeconomic conditions.

So the main battlefield, the political battlefield, I mean, is who's stronger, who's the tough guy--usually the tough guy, but in some cases the tough woman. And in order to try to get many votes as possible, political leaders have to have enemies. They have to have some kind of clash.

And the recent war that Israel fought was a bombardment and invasion of Gaza in the last summer. And after that, the Israeli government became very unstable. Netanyahu, Prime Minister Netanyahu, called for an early election to take place in March. And so this March, the election is coming. But the distance between this summer of 2014 and the March elections of spring of 2015 is too big of a distance. I think Netanyahu is concerned that he's going to lose a lot of his popularity by that time. And he's already losing in the polls.

So this attack is directly related to the elections. I don't believe there would have been an attack like this, which puts Israel in great jeopardy. Of course, the main victims are the targets of the strike. Twelve people have been killed. But from the Israeli point of view, it is not a strategically wise attack, but it is maybe politically wise.

DESVARIEUX: Doesn't this strike also sort of breed this snowball effect of the retaliation? 'Cause I'm assuming Hezbollah is going to position itself to retaliate, Shir.

HEVER: Well, this attack has killed, like I said, 12 people. Six of them are senior Hezbollah people and six of them are senior Iranian military, including an Iranian general. And one of the members of Hezbollah that was killed is a son of a senior Hezbollah commander, who was also assassinated by Israel, murdered by Israel, effectively. So this has a very big symbolic impact.

I think Netanyahu may have not known that he's going to kill--that this attack is going to kill Iranian officers, as well as Hezbollah officers, but I believe that he was counting on this snowball effect, he was counting on a retaliation, because if Israel attacks and there is no response, then Netanyahu can say, well, I'm a strong military leader and I could attack Hezbollah and they're too afraid to strike back. This might give him a little bit of popularity in the polls in Israel. But if Hezbollah does retaliate and there's a state of emergency and there is a sense of threat and people are afraid for their lives because Hezbollah are armed with long-range rockets that could reach various cities inside Israel, then Netanyahu's political advantages can really shine. That's where Netanyahu can outmaneuver his political opponents and say, well, I'm the only strong leader who could lead his country in a time of crisis. This is a very calculated attack in order to try to change the political atmosphere in Israel, to push away from the headlines, the news headlines, stories about the stagnant wages and the rising cost of living and put forward issues of threat and fear where Netanyahu's forte is.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Shir Hever, very interesting analysis. Always a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much for joining us.

HEVER: Thanks for having me.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Only Two Weeks Left To Help Us Reach Our Goal
Fight Within UK Labour Party Pits Career Politicians Against Radicals Pt. 1/2
Poor People's Campaign Revival: A Season of Organizing
Eddie Conway on Why We Need Real News
Baltimore Students Offer Solutions to Stop Police Brutality
From Net Neutrality to Tax Cuts, Trump's Billionaires are Having a Field Day
The Fight for Net Neutrality Isn't Over
Will Kirwan Consider Race When Recommending Fixes to Maryland Schools?
US Strikes Out with New War-Mongering on Iran
Baltimore Beat & TRNN: What's Next? (4/4)
TRNN Exclusive: On 9th Anniversary of the Iraqi Journalist that Shoed Bush
Democracy in Crisis: Law & Order Dumb-Dumb
Putin 'Quite Muted' in Response to Russian Olympic Doping Scandal
World Bank and World's Third Largest Insurer Divest from Most Oil and Gas
Ecuador's Vice-President Sentenced to Six Years Prison for Corruption
Children's Health Insurance Program to Expire Under GOP Tax Bill
Undoing the New Deal: Truman Embraces the Cold War (pt4)
Putin's Syria 'Victory' Won't End the Proxy War
Palestinians Stand Up to Israel, Will the World?
Baltimore Beat & TRNN: Is Having a White CEO in a Majority Black City a Problem? (3/4)
Can Baby Bonds Help Close Baltimore's Wealth Gap?
Digital Dystopia: FCC Ends Net Neutrality
Judge in J20 Case Drops Inciting Riot Charge But Condemns Journalism as Conspiracy
Nina Turner on Alabama Vote & Democratic Party Unity Reform Comission
Virtually No Economist Believes the GOP Tax Bill Will Generate Much Growth
Baltimore Beat & TRNN: Why Baltimore? (2/4)
Partisan Clash over Trump-Russia Probe Gets Messier
Honduras' Flawed Vote Recount: A Cover-Up for Fraud?
Jones Wins, Bannon Loses in Alabama Special Election
Racism and Trumpism in Alabama,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting