One such scholar is Firas Maksad, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Institute. During an interview with CNBC, he described Hezbollah's entry into the Israel-Hamas conflict as "nothing short of a game-changer."
"Hamas is but the weak underling of Hezbollah, a much more formidable fighting force and widely recognized as the most powerful non-state military in the world," Maksad said. "This will be a game-changer not only for Israel, but also for the entire region."
But for Marwa Osman, the game-changer isn't Hezbollah's entry – but something else. She believes that Hezbollah may partly be trying to confuse Israel. "The game changer would be the use of massive force or the arrival of U.S. forces and equipment to the Palestinian-occupied territories," said Osman, a lecturer at the Lebanese International University.
Political science professor Hilal Khashan said Hezbollah would hesitate to join the war in full force. "Irrespective of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's decision, Hezbollah will not open a front from south Lebanon against Israel because it will justify Israel to destroy Lebanon," he remarked. "Iran has already informed Israel and the U.S. through third parties that it will rein in Hezbollah." (Related: Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it is “prepared and ready” to join the war against Israel.)
Hezbollah was organized during Lebanon’s civil war in 1982 with support from Tehran and assistance from Iran's Revolutionary Guard. It maintains a huge deal of power in Lebanon in the form of its Shiite political party, which claims 62 seats in the nation's parliament, next to its Iran-supported proxy militant unit. Hezbollah functions as both a political party and a paramilitary group, and is named by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
The group gained strength after a war with Israel in 2006, and its military wing has increased to overtake Lebanon's army as the major military force in the country. Today, experts believe Hezbollah doesn't have the local popular support it had in 2006 to assist a military operation in Israel's current war with Hamas.
Joseph Daher, author of the book "Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon's Party of God," described the group as "not only a key Lebanese political and military actor, … [but also] a key regional actor. He also noted that while Hezbollah is a Lebanese entity with its own freedom, it is "intrinsically ideologically, politically, militarily [and] economically linked to Iran." Moreover, Daher noted how the group "has accumulated huge experience, especially on the Syrian military scene, but also in Iraq and to a lesser extent Yemen."
The group governs Lebanon with an iron hand, regulating most border crossings and using critical political influence, employing its power to block important political appointments. But dealing with the Israel Defense Forces is the least of Hezbollah's problems.
Lebanon is dealing with its worst economic crisis in history, with triple-digit inflation and a currency that has lost above 90 percent of its value since the beginning of an economic crisis in 2019. Nearly three-quarters of the Lebanese people are living below the poverty line. According to Maksad, Hezbollah's own people "are suffering war fatigue" and are "under the pressure of Lebanon's financial collapse."
A new front in Israel for Hezbollah could be devastating for the group, and experts think Iran may not want to employ its strongest international militia fighting in Gaza or in Israel to support Hamas.
"It's the scale of [the conflict in Gaza] that will depend on Hezbollah intervening or not," Daher told CNBC, noting that Lebanon's Christian community is against or critical of the group. Maksad agreed, noting that Hezbollah has to "take into consideration public opinion in Lebanon."
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Watch this clip of IDF airstrikes against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on Brighteon.com.