Hezbollah Still Pursuing ‘Destruction of Israel,’ Top US Congressman Warns at Iranian Threat Hearing
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a stark reminder on Wednesday that Hezbollah — the Lebanese Shia terrorist organization backed by Iran — is “well positioning itself to intensify its original mission: the destruction of Israel.”
Delivering introductory remarks at a committee hearing on “confronting the full range of Iranian threats,” Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) said Hezbollah was now “ascendant in Lebanon,” with “thousands of fighters in Syria” as well.
“This terrorist organization is building a deadly rocket arsenal, ready to rain terror on the Jewish state,” Royce continued. “I was in Israel during the 2006 Hezbollah rocket campaign. Its capabilities then, quite substantial, are far more concerning today.”
“This is a powder keg,” Royce warned.
Iran has used its military intervention on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to construct missile factories in both Syria and Lebanon. Over the last year, Israeli intelligence officials have reported that the Tehran regime is supplying Hezbollah with ever more sophisticated precision technology for its missiles aimed at the Jewish state. Israel estimates that Hezbollah currently possesses around 150,000 missiles — ten times more than in 2006, when the terrorist group last unleashed its firepower on Israel’s northern population centers.
Royce added that it was imperative for the US to “urge our allies in Europe to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and provide the administration with additional tools to go after this Iranian proxy — as we voted to do last week.”
On October 5, the US Senate passed the Hezbollah International Financing Act, which sanctions individuals and organizations involved with the group and its satellite institutions, such as its broadcaster Al-Manar.
Royce’s comments on Wednesday followed a statement made the previous day by National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, who said, “We in the intelligence community do in fact see continued activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland.”
Rasmussen cited the arrest of two alleged Hezbollah agents — Ali Kourani and Samir el-Debek — in New York last June as evidence of increasing Hezbollah activity within the borders of the US. “It’s our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” he said.
Founded in 1985 as an amalgamation of Iranian-sponsored Lebanese Shia terrorist groups, Hezbollah has consistently promoted the destruction of Israel as its primary goal. The group’s 2009 manifesto hailed “the beginning of hastening historic demise of the Zionist entity,” adding that by its very existence, Israel “embodies an eternal threat to Lebanon.”