Hezbollah smuggling weapons to the West Bank amid surge in militant activity

Amid a major uptick in militant activity in the West Bank, FDD’s Long War Journal has confirmed with a senior Israeli military official that Hezbollah has been smuggling weapons into the West Bank.

The story, first reported by Shira Rubin at The Washington Post, implicates Hezbollah – and to an extent – Iran in supporting the buildup of militant organizations led by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the West Bank.

Before it was discovered that Hezbollah was arming the West Bank, it was not entirely clear if Palestinian groups were receiving support from abroad. Though Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Chief Hossein Salami recently stated the West Bank “could be armed” in the same manner as Gaza and the “process” was already underway.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have thwarted numerous attempts to smuggle weapons from Lebanon into Israel since last year. In 2021, IDF troops and Israeli police “thwarted the largest attempt” when it confiscated 43 guns worth almost $1 million USD, according to a tweet published by the Israeli military. The Israeli military’s statement also added that it was examining the possibility of Hezbollah’s involvement.

It’s worth noting since the beginning of this year, FDD’s Long War Journal has tracked the establishment of several nascent Palestinian militant organizations.

Of these groups, FDD’s Long War Journal has identified six militant organizations which have issued statements identifying their affiliation with the newly established formations or have claimed responsibility for attacking IDF troops with these groups.

Katibat Jenin and Katibat Nablus are led by Palestinian Islamic Jihad while Hizam al-Nar is headed by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine are also active in these formations but play a smaller role. While all of these groups have their own political movements and so-called military wings, they operate under the Katibat and Hizam al-Nar organizations as a single unit to combat IDF operations.

Also, an organization called The Lion’s Den was recently established with apparent ties to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: A Newly Established Militant Organization in the West Bank Claims Several Attacks]

A similar model has been employed in Gaza with the joint operations room of the Palestinian factions. Approximately a dozen militant organizations operate under the Hamas-led operations room umbrella during times of conflict against Israel.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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