On Saturday, US State Department-designated terrorist group Hezbollah announced that Facebook and Twitter had terminated its main accounts. In a post on encrypted messenger, Telegram, Hezbollah opined that the shutdowns were "part of the propaganda campaign against the resistance due to the important role of the organization’s information apparatus in various arenas." Hezbollah then began redirecting people to other Hezbollah accounts on social media.
While it is not known what particular activity led to the account terminations, it isn’t the first time either Facebook or Twitter has shutdown a Hezbollah account. The shutdowns occurred following threats of criminal prosecution against Twitter from Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Erdan argued that while Facebook generally takes prompt action in removing groups associated with violence, Twitter is lax when it comes to dealing with groups who call for "the murder of innocents."
Then too, it may be in response to Hezbollah’s recent release of a video clip of a border attack on Israeli troops in 2006. Gizmodo points out that "tensions between Israel, Palestinians, and each sides’ respective allies (in the latter case including Hezbollah) have remained extremely high."
Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group based in Lebanon whose name means "Party of God." Hezbollah was founded in 1982 following conflict with Israel in the First Lebanon War.
With Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at the helm, Hezbollah is closely aligned, politically and militarily, with Syria and Iran. The political arm of Hezbollah is heavily involved in Lebanese politics where it has seats in the government. Hezbollah has also provided the Lebanese Shiite community with social programs, health care and schools.
Currently, Hezbollah enjoys widespread support from Lebanon’s Shiite population, in addition to backing from Syria and Iran. And, the group has expanded its influence, globally, and can be found in various parts of the world, including Germany, Venezuela and the United States.
Hezbollah’s social media dilemma, however, is the least of its concerns. With the situation, on the ground and in the air, intensifying in the region, Hezbollah may also wind up the target of an Israeli cyber offensive if former Unit 8200 (the Israeli NSA counterpart) chief Brig.-Gen. Ehud Schneorson’s advice to Israel is heeded. Schneorson recently suggested that the first cyber target that Israel should go after in any conflict with Iran or Hezbollah should be the adversaries’ energy infrastructure.
Speaking at the Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, Schneorson said that "energy is a major pillar of economies, and for some it is their cardiovascular system."
The airstrikes that took place on June 18 reportedly killed pro-Iranian Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) members in the Euphrates valley near the Iraqi border in Al-Hari. The airstrikes were blamed on the US, but the US has denied those claims. The air campaign has, however, garnered even more support for Hezbollah. For example, Shiite militia groups, Saraya al Mokhtar, Saraya Waad Allah and Saraya al Ashtar have expressed solidarity with Hezbollah.
The Long War Journal’s Threat Matrix blog reports:
"Various Iraqi Shia militia groups, many of which also operate inside Syria, sent condolences and messages of support to the Hezbollah Brigades as well. Harakat al Nujaba, a militia controlled by the IRGC, said that it and the Hezbollah Brigades were 'partners in blood.' Asaib Ahl al Haq condemned 'the cowardly act' and added that the Iraqi militia was in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government to 'combat terrorism.'
Additionally, Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, another IRGC-backed militia, decried Israel, the United States, and the Iraqi government for the airstrikes. Harakat al Abdal, another militia that operates in both Iraq and Syria, released a video of a pro-Hezbollah Brigades demonstration in Iraq on its Facebook page. While not explicitly sending its condolences, Lebanese Hezbollah did republish the original statement from the Hezbollah Brigades on the airstrikes on its Central War Media website."
All of these militias, including the Hezbollah Brigades, consider themselves to be part of the "Axis of Resistance", a network of state and non-state actors, commanded by Iran who operates against the US and its allies. Meanwhile, Hezbollah and Iran have built up a massive amount of weapons and fighters in Syria that pose a threat to the United States and its allies in the region.
Israel has carried out a number of strikes against Hezbollah and Iran in Syria. The Threat Matrix blog cautions that "an escalating war has the potential to cause significant economic damage, lead to high numbers of civilian casualties and internally displaced persons, and involve more countries in the region than did the 2006 Lebanon War."
And, to add to the mix, Russia has carried out its first airstrikes in southwest Syria in support of an Assad regime offensive. Bordering on Jordan and the Golan Heights, this particular theater is one of the seven-year war's most complex.
The US has warned the Assad regime and its allies that violations of the "de-escalation" agreement would have "serious repercussions" and trigger "firm and appropriate measures." At the same time, the US told southern rebel leaders not to expect US military support.