Israel’s chief military spokesman Ronen Manelis said that Israel was conducting a “psychological war” against Hezbollah as well as preparing conventional operations against the Iran-backed group.
Manelis said that these operations included the targeting of Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. “There won’t be a clear victory picture in the next war, though it’s clear that Nasrallah is a target,” he explained.
Manelis said that the propaganda war is shifting from traditional media to online: “One of the things we talk about is the transition from traditional media consumption to social media. We are also active in this theater, and it is an operational theater in every respect. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve taken a great many actions that caused consternation on the other side.”
According to The Guardian, the Israeli government has been engaged in recruiting what it has referred to as “cover units” since 2013. These units consist of a mixture of international students and domestic students employed by Israel in a “professional trolling” capacity to defeat a wide range of enemies from the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement to to foreign governments.
During the 2014 Gaza war the student group “Israel Under Fire” emerged as a key voice on social media promoting Israel’s narrative of the conflict. “Social media is another place where the war goes on. This is another way to tell our story,” the group’s leader, Yarden Ben-Yosef, said.
Hezbollah also has considerable media presence, with a weekly newspaper al-Ahad, two radio stations and a television station, al-Manar, created in the late 1980s. More recently Hezbollah has bolstered its media presence operating more than 50 websites including the website of its leader Hassan Nasrallah. On the Hezbollah leader’s website the archives of his speeches and and pronouncements are available.
Tensions have risen between Israel and Hezbollah with its backers in Iran in recent weeks. In a recent statement Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has attacked Israel, saying Israel would be “eradicated” in the next war with Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, said Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameni, the Supreme Leader of Iran, was the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” He went on to further compare the sectarian power struggle in the region between Riyadh and Tehran to Europe in World War II.