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Psychological Operations during the Israel-Lebanon War 2006
By SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

14 August 2006

Lebanese youths collect Israeli leaflets dropped over Beirut
Lebanese youths collect Israeli leaflets dropped over Beirut
(Courtesy of Matthew Good Blog)

On 12 July 2006 Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon crossed the border into Israel, killed eight soldiers and abducted two others. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that a prisoner exchange was the only way to secure the release of the soldiers, who he said were being held in a "secure and remote" location. "No military operation will return them," he said. "The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade."

The Israelis do not negotiate and in general do not trade with terrorists. Israeli forces retaliated against Hezbollah strongholds in Southwest Lebanon the same day. They sent troops across the border to search for the missing men. This rapidly escalated into a full-scale invasion and a surprisingly strong defensive reaction by Hezbollah who had thousands of rockets instead of the hundreds that Israel probably expected. Hezbollah even had an estimated eight or nine drones produced by Iran. Their bunkers were equipped with computers and video systems that were able to watch Israeli military movement. Their bunkers were dug deep into the ground and fortified. Israeli forces struck Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's office and home in Beirut's Shiite-dominant southern suburbs, prompting the leader of the "Party of God" to declare "open war" against the Jewish state. This article is not about the war. We will mention some pertinent points briefly, but this article is about the psychological operations conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces and the Hezbollah Party. Readers who are interested in the military aspect of this short 34-day war must look elsewhere. I should also point out that translations differ, and in some cases the text does not translate to proper English. I have tried to give a translation of the message that is what I believe the PSYOP troops wanted to convey to the target audience and edited the grammar where needed. Readers will note that many of the leaflets are without translation at present. Any Arabic-speaking reader who might care to translate a leaflet and send the information to the author is thanked in advance.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah

A young Lebanese boy collects Israeli air-dropped leaflets in Beirut.
A young Lebanese boy collects Israeli
air-dropped leaflets in Beirut.

During the Israeli retaliatory raids and invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Forces dropped a great number of leaflets on an almost daily basis. The leaflets were dropped from fighter aircraft using leaflets bombs, in containers on parachutes, and from helicopters. There are reports of them being disseminated by artillery shells both from land and naval ships, and one photograph showing a fragment of what is reported to be part of an American propaganda artillery shell may prove that the reports are true.

Alleged fragment of a US propaganda artillery shell used to disseminated Israeli leaflets
Alleged fragment of a US propaganda artillery shell
used to disseminated Israeli leaflets
(Courtesy of the Chinese People's Daily Online)

They had dropped leaflets in the past, but never to the extent that they did in July and August 2006. During the conflict, there were 47 leaflet missions over Lebanon, with a total of more then 17,000,000 leaflets dropped. In addition to that, more then 700,000 computerized voice messages were delivered to citizens in Lebanon. The Israeli Army reactivated its Psychological Warfare Unit and in a rare televised news broadcast they allowed a 20-year old unnamed female cartoonist to be photographed from the back as she designed leaflets showing the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as a snake or a scorpion with text that said that Nasrallah is leading Lebanon to ruin and is the blame for all the death and destruction. Many of the leaflets are brightly colored in pink or yellow and many contain cartoons and caricatures.

IDF Military Psychologist Major Yotam
IDF Military Psychologist Major Yotam

The IDF PsyWar Unit's graphic artist
The IDF PsyWar Unit's graphic artist

Among the leaflets displayed were some that will be mentioned in this article and some that are yet unknown. They are; The Hezbollah leader as a puppet holding two rockets; Nine white tombstones on a black background; The Hezbollah leader as a spider in the center on a web; The Hezbollah leader hiding while Lebanese civilians are killed by four explosions, The face of the Hezbollah leader showing shock and awe; The Hezbollah leader behind three bound Lebanese civilians, and The Hezbollah leader walking off a cliff pulling a cedar of Lebanon (the national symbol) behind him.

Israeli PsyWar cartoons
Hassan, what is keeping you awake tonight?

Curiously, each of these prospective leaflets has its propaganda text in Hebrew. We assume that since the artist was Jewish she added the text to the leaflet in her own language, and if and when they were approved for dissemination and forwarded to the printers for mass production the text would have been translated into Arabic by a trained Israeli linguist.

We should point out that at the same time Israel was dropping leaflets on Lebanon they were also dropping leaflets on other contested areas such as Gaza. For instance, the following leaflet had been dropped the previous September over the Gaza Strip.

Israeli propaganda leaflets dropped on Gaza in 2005
(Courtesy of Electronic Intifada)

To the residents of the northern Gaza Strip

The terrorist actions originating from your areas are forcing the Israel Defense Forces to respond harshly to those who are subjecting the citizens of the State of Israel to danger.

We call on the Palestinian Authority to shoulder its responsibility to prevent these criminal acts.

We warn you of the danger of remaining in the areas which are being used to launch terrorist actions and we advise you to leave your homes.

We are not responsible for the consequences if you ignore our warning.

Israel Defense Forces

It is also worth noting that Israel had invaded Lebanon before. On 6 June 1982 the Israeli Defense Forces entered Southern Lebanon in response to an assassination attempt against Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom and artillery attacks by the Palestine Liberation Organization against Northern Israel. During the first week of Israel's operations in Lebanon, Syrian troops engaged in battles with Israeli forces. The Israelis destroyed or damaged 18 of the 19 Syrian missile batteries and, in one day, shot down 29 Syrian MiG fighters without the loss of a single plane. The operation was called "Peace for Galilee" and the Israelis occupied southern Lebanon until June 1985. Curiously, this invasion is claimed to be the reason for the creation of the Iranian and Syrian supported Hezbollah organization, which replaced the PLO in Southern Lebanon. The IDF dropped leaflets on Lebanon during the 1982 to 1985 period.

1985 Israeli propaganda leaflet

On bright pink leaflet is all text:

Announcement to the inhabitants of the southern villages

Due to the increase in terrorist activity and the launching of missiles from the south into Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces will act to curtail these activities.

Calm must prevail on both sides of the border

People!

If you want to pursue your day to day life in peace you must cease providing assistance to those engaging in terrorist acts or those helping them, and you should take it upon yourself to insure that no terrorist activity takes place in your area.

Don't allow your homes to become terrorist dens against Israel or the price will be very costly for all of you both collectively and individually.

It is in your hands to stop the destruction and death.

There will be no excuse for those who have been forewarned.

The Commander of the Northern Israeli Defense Force

For the purposes of this article we will only discuss psychological operations of the Israeli-Lebanon war of 2006. Israeli aircraft have been dropping leaflets since shortly after fighting began on July 12. Most of them were either against Hezbollah and its leader sheik Hassan Nasrallah, or called on residents to leave border villages. It is possible that the same leaflet was dropped on more than one occasion. For instance, we know that on at least five instances the same leaflet was dropped on multiple days. The dissemination of the same leaflet on more than one occasion occurred on 21 July and 23 July; 24 July and 30 July; 29 July, 1 August, 4 August, 5 August, and 12 August; and 3 August and 10 August.

Israeli Propaganda leaflet dropped 13 July 2006
Due to the terrorist activities carried out by Hezbolla...

On 13 July, Israeli warplanes dropped thousands of leaflets over South Beirut urging residents to stay away from the group's offices and buildings. The leaflet is all-text and says:

To the Inhabitants of Lebanon

Due to the terrorist activities carried out by Hezbollah which destroys the effort to find a brighter future for Lebanon.

The Israeli Army will continue its work within Lebanon for as long as it deems fit to protect the citizens of the State of Israel.

For your own safety and because we do not wish to cause any more civilian deaths, you are advised to avoid all places frequented by Hezbollah.

You should know that the continuation of terrorist activities against the State of Israel will be considered a double-edged sword for you and Lebanon.

The State of Israel

On 15 July, Israeli planes dropped packages of leaflets on downtown Beirut attacking Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and depicting him as a Cobra with his black turban rolled into the shape of the snake's hood and about to swallow the Lebanese capital. The text of the green leaflet is:

Beware!!! He appears to be a brother, but he is a snake. Israeli Propaganda Leaflet dropped on 15 July 2006
Beware!!! He appears to be a brother, but he is a snake.

To the Lebanese people,

Beware!!!

He appears to be a brother, but he is a snake.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 15 July 2006

A second version of the same leaflet was dropped the same day, this is almost identical except that there are some minor changes in the cobra's hood and there is no text to the left of the snake.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 15 July 2006

A third leaflet was dropped on 15 July depicting the Hezbollah leader at the lower right in a bunker while four explosions killed Lebanese civilians out in the open and warned that Israel would increase its bombardment of Hezbollah:

Let it be known that continued terrorism against Israel will not allow you to be in peace.

At the same time, Israel pounded the political headquarters of Hezbollah and the party's television station, al-Manar.

On 16 July, Israeli warplanes dropped two different propaganda leaflets over southern Lebanon warning of more attacks.

Need any favors? - Israeli Propaganda Leaflet dropped 16 July 2006
Need any favors?

The first leaflet includes references to President Bashar Assad of Syria, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In this leaflet Hassan Nasrallah is a cobra is dancing to the tune of the flute-playing leaders of Iran, Syria and the Palestinian group Hamas. The cartoon shows two bombs within the cobra's hood, while the foreign leaders sit cross-legged on a map of Lebanon. The Nasrallah-snake says:

Need any favors?

The second leaflet is all text and was dropped over downtown Beirut:

Israeli propaganda leaflet
(Courtesy of BloggingBeirut.com)

To the Residents of Lebanon

The Israeli army will increase its actions in Lebanon against the continuing terrorist actions of Hezbollah to defend the citizens of the state of Israel.

For the sake of your own safety, and in our wish not to harm any civilians that are not implicated, you must keep away from the locations where Hezbollah is present and acting against the state of Israel. Including:

Locations where missiles are fired in the direction of the state of Israel.

Locations of Hezbollah's arsenals and military equipment.

Hezbollah's centers south of Beirut and areas under its control in the south of Lebanon.

Beirut's southern suburb, the center of terrorism.

The Israeli defense army calls on the Lebanese residents and Lebanese army to refrain from aiding, either directly or indirectly, elements of Hezbollah. Anyone who does will be putting their life in danger.

Know that the persistence of terrorism against the state of Israel is keeping you from a better future.

The State of Israel

Lebanese and Arab newspapers featured photographs of civilians sweeping up the leaflets and citizens burning them in public.

A Lebanese man burns Israeli air dropped leaflets

Lebanese television broadcast what Hezbollah claimed was an Israeli helicopter gunship falling to the ground near the Lebanese capital on 17 July. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation said that it was an F-16 fighter jet. The Israeli military stated that none of its aircraft were shot down over Beirut and the object shown burning and crashing was a container of propaganda leaflets dropping from an Israeli plane.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 17 July 2006

This all-text leaflet has the following text:

To the People of Lebanon

Hezbollah declared war on Israel.

We all know Israel's enormous power and ability to mobilize her forces against terrorist organizations whenever necessary.

People of Lebanon:

If you sleep in a cemetery, you are bound to have nightmares.

Israel is a powerful nation and determined to do whatever necessary to ensure the safety of her citizens!!!

The State of Israel

Brigidier General Miri Regev, the Israeli army's chief spokeswoman stated on TV that the Israeli Defense Forces dropped leaflets on 17 July warning residents of southern Lebanon to flee the area ahead of an impending attack. Similar leaflets had been dropped for the past week warning civilians to evacuate the area.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 18 July 2006

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as a puppet

On 18 July the Israelis dropped leaflets depicting Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as a puppet. It is interesting to note that like the "cobra" leaflet depicted above, they were dropped with and without accompanying text. The hands that control the Hezbollah leader are labeled "Syria" and "Iran."

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 18 July 2006

The text is:

To Lebanese citizens

How long?

How long will you be marionettes in the hands of Syria and Iran?

How long will Hezbollah, the Fifth Column, continue to put your independence and safety in danger?

Hezbollah and its leader are hurting the peace and prosperity of Lebanon that was created after a great effort.

Israel will continue to use all of its power to strike Hezbollah and to bring peace back to the area.

The State of Israel

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 18 July 2006

An all-text leaflet was also dropped on 18 July. The message is:

Hassan, what are you afraid of?

You are afraid of appearing in public and you broadcast recorded speeches.

You fled to your shelter and you left your men frightened and exposed in the face of Israel's power.

You carry out the orders of your masters and you break your promises to the people of Lebanon causing them painful losses.

How long must the people of Lebanon pay for your cowardice and arrogance?

Warning leaflets were airdropped on 19 July over the villages of Al Bazurya and Avasya in southern Lebanon to advise residents of coming IDF strikes on missile launch sites and cautioning that anyone near the sites is there at significant risk to their life. The leaflet text is:

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped on 19 July 2006

To the People of Lebanon

Please follow the instructions below!!!

The Israeli Defense Force will intensify the targeting of all areas from which rockets are launched against Israel.

Everyone in the area will be under extreme danger!

As well as that, any pick-up truck or heavy vehicles moving south of the Litani river will be considered a suspicious vehicle transporting rockets and military equipment and will be a potential target for attack by the Israeli Defense Force.

Therefore, the above will be under extreme danger.

The State of Israel

The Phoenicia hotel in downtown Beirut, 19 July 2006
The Phoenicia hotel in downtown Beirut, 19 July 2006.
Israeli leaflets addressed "To the Residents of
Lebanon" are scattered across the ground.
(Courtesy of BloggingBeirut.com)

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 19 July 2006

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah walking off a cliff

On 19 July the Israelis dropped a leaflet showing the Hezbollah leaders walking off a cliff, pulling the symbolic cedar tree of Lebanon behind him.

We are standing on the edge of the abyss - and we are determined to march forward

(Note) the word the Israelis used for "abyss" in their original Hebrew-language test leaflet is the biblical one used in Genesis for the pre-creation void.

On 20 July, Israel dropped leaflets entitled "All for Lebanon" offering "attractive material rewards" to people who give information about Hezbollah that helps the Jewish state's offensive against the guerrillas. The rewards could be anything from cash to a new house. The leaflet is similar to the "All4Lebanon" computer Internet website (see below). The leaflet depicts a Cedar of Lebanon at the left and is all text at the right.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 20 July 2006

A very rough translation of the text in part is:

A brief message to the Lebanese people

We turn to all those who can and want to help Lebanon, to remove the Hezbollah scar from your hearts and the heart of Lebanon, and to return to the previous period of independence and achievement.

Put aside sayings and slogans and contact us at the following addresses.

00-41-79-7886237 - 00-88-16-214-65627 - Info@all4Lebanon.org

No caller's identity will be revealed. Secrecy is guaranteed and the reward we offer is tempting.

We would accept with great appreciation any information that can contribute to restoring quiet to the area, so that we can fight terrorists efficiently and carefully. Please help us so that we can help you protect Lebanon from this evil, and return life to the normal routine.

For your own wellbeing, contact us from places where no one knows you

At the same time, there were a number of reports of Israel sending phone calls to Lebanese civilians. Some of the calls are as early as 5:30 a.m. They continue throughout the day with such recorded messages such as:

Oh Lebanese people, we tell you not to follow Hezbollah. We will continue to strike and no one will bring your prisoners back from Israel except the Lebanese government.

Hassan, have you realized yet that the Israeli army not as delicate as a spider's web? It's a web of steel that will strangle you!

This is the state of Israel. This resistance ... is forcing you to stay at home like rats.

Who is it that's putting your life in danger? Who is using you as human shields?

We don't want to harm you. We're bombing the infrastructure so Hezbollah will have no means of firing its rockets.

We know you wanted to hit Israel, but you have confronted a house made of steel. This is the Israel Defense Forces.

Other calls indicated that the Israeli state would not stop the attacks and asking everyone to leave the area south of the Litani.

Israeli All4Lebanon.org website (Arabic)

Israeli All4Lebanon.org website (English)

Meanwhile, an Israeli source (possibly Israeli Intelligence) uploaded the Internet website All4Lebanon.org with a logo in the Lebanese national colors of red, white, and green incorporating a cedar tree and text in Arabic, English, and French. The website is an Israeli "grey" propaganda operation and the server for the website is NS.BARAK.NET.IL which was registered on 19 July 2006. Some of the website message is:

Let us not be content with words! Whoever is able and willing to help Lebanon eradicate Hezbollah's evil and get back its independence, freedom and prosperity, whoever has information that could promote this purpose, is hereby invited to contact us at one of the addresses listed below.

You may enter your personal details, but you can also provide your information anonymously. 

Secrecy and appropriate financial reward are guaranteed.

Any information that will help us restore peace in the area and fight terror carefully and effectively would be welcome. Help us root out this evil and restore normal life to all the people who live in the region. For your own safety, please contact us from places where no one knows you. 

Two phone numbers are listed along with one Internet address.

Some of these operations are mentioned by retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Tim Thomas said in an article entitled "Hezbollah, Israel, and Cyber PSYOP." The LTC invents some interesting words and definitions and I thought it might be worth adding his thoughts:

…An evolving cyber phenomenon is underway: the concept of cyber psychological operations—which are cyber operations (those that use the computer chip) that aim to directly attack and influence the attitudes and behaviors of soldiers and the general population. While armies continue to compete in digital battle space, local populations are now caught up in digital influence space battles. As a result armies can no longer stand between an enemy and the public as they once did…

During the recent fighting in Lebanon…in addition to the normal leaflet delivery "propaganda bombs," the Israeli's were using "E-flets." What is an E-flet? It is a leaflet type message that appears on the Internet, usually through URL links to a website. In one case, a website gave the appearance of being Lebanese in content (a red, green, and white Lebanese flag). It was accompanied by bombastic patriotic statements to rise against Hezbollah. But the site had a +881 satellite number to call instead of a Lebanese number, and the server was NS.BARAK.NET.IL.

On 21 July and again on 23 July, Israeli planes dropped leaflets warning residents to flee for safety beyond the Litani River, about 13 miles from the border. This was made more difficult after an Israeli air strike hit one of the few remaining crossings over the river early the previous day, trapping hundreds of cars on the southern bank.

The leaflets say:

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 21 July 2006

To the People in the Villages South of al-Litani River

Because of terrorist activities made from inside your villages and your homes against the State of Israel.

The Israeli Defense Forces must react directly and immediately against these activities inside your villages.

You must immediately leave your villages for your safety

The State of Israel

A second almost identical leaflet was dropped with just two minor additions to make the instructions more clear and tell the Lebanese exactly where the Israelis wanted them to go:

To the People in the Villages South of al-Litani River

Because of terrorist activities made from inside your villages and your homes against the State of Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces must respond directly and immediately against these activities inside your villages.

For your safety!!!

You are ordered to immediately evacuate your villages and move north of the al-Litani River.

The State of Israel


Youths examine Israeli propaganda leaflets dropped on the Lebanese city of Tyre

On 22 July, Israeli planes dropped leaflets over the southern city of Tyre. The leaflets depict Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hiding behind a Lebanese family represented by a husband, wife and son in bondage. The husband clearly represents Lebanon since a cedar tree is depicted on his shirt.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 22 July 2006

The text is:

Your defenders are your destroyers

There is a second version of this leaflet that is almost identical except that it contains one added line. That leaflet was dropped on 25 July.

Two more all-text leaflets were dropped on 23 July. One was the warning leaflet for residents to flee for safety beyond the Litani River first dropped on 21 July, the other is an all text leaflet.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 23 July 2006

To Hezbollah Supporters

Hassan continues to mislead you

Hassan is claiming that the leadership of Hezbollah is determined to work for your safety but why doesn't he show himself to you instead of hanging his picture around Beirut?

Where is Naeem Qassim?
Where is Ibrahim Amin Alsayed?
Where is Hashim Safeydeen?

Hassan says that only one or two rocket launchers have been destroyed. If Hassan came out of his hideout for a second, he would know that many rocket launchers have been destroyed and many people have died.

In his latest speech, Hassan attacked Arab leaders and ignored the international community.

Is this what you want for Lebanon? To be isolated, surrounded and entirely under the mercy of Syria and Iran?

The only truth in his speech is that this is only the start.

The three individuals named, also known as "Naeem Qassim," "Ibrahim Ameen Al Sayyed" and "Hashim Safa El Deen" are the senior leadership of Hezbollah.

Leaflets were dropped on Sidon, south Lebanon, on 24 July. Fragments of an American-made antiquated M129 leaflet bomb were found and numerous photographs of the fragment were published around the world.

Fragment of an American-made M129 E2 leaflet bomb
Fragment of an American-made M129 E2 leaflet bomb
(Courtesy of AFP)

Lebanese children inspect a leaflet bomb that was dropped in Sidon, south Lebanon, July 24, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
Lebanese children inspect a leaflet bomb that was dropped in
Sidon, south Lebanon, July 24, 2006. Reuters/Ali Hashisho

The same leaflet was dropped again on 30 July.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 24 and 30 July 2006

The text is reported to be:

To Hezbollah militia activists:

Do you really think that the battlefield looks like the propaganda clips on Al-Manar TV, and that you could sprint so fast and easily up the highest hills?

Did you believe your leaders, who told you that those facing you are nothing but spider webs easily torn down by you?

They lied to you all these years; they are lying to you now.

You know very well that you were sent like sheep to be butchered, lacking military training and without proper combat gear.

You know very well that the reassuring words of your leaders are not sufficient for a resilient stand against highly trained soldiers that fight to protect their homeland, their people and their home.

You are nothing but mercenaries, and the Lebanese people do not support you.

Run as far as you can, save your souls.

[Note: Al-Manar (The Beacon) is a television station based in Beirut, Lebanon. It was launched by Hezbollah in 1991 with funding from Iran. Al-Manar calls itself the "station of resistance," and is instrumental in what Hezbollah calls its psychological warfare against the Israelis. In 2004, the station was estimated to be viewed by 10-15 million people daily worldwide. Its programming is geared to keep the Arab world focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the US occupation of that country.]

At the same time, The Guardian Unlimited published a report that Israel is directing a multimedia propaganda campaign at the besieged people of Southern Lebanon.

Mobile phone users are being bombarded with text messages and phone calls, and a local radio station has suddenly had reports broadcast from the Israeli government's point of view.

Each day Israeli planes drop "propaganda bombs", which burst to send leaflets fluttering down on to streets and rooftops. Leaflets dropped yesterday morning described the Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as a coward who hid in a cave while the Lebanese people suffered the consequences of his actions. "He has attacked Arab leaders and ignored the international community; is this what you want for Lebanon?" it asked.

Israeli PSYOP mobile text message

Meanwhile mobile phone users regularly receive messages sent to their phones which appear as news updates, attempting to discredit Nasrallah or the party he leads. Titled "News." a message sent early yesterday reported that the Hezbollah leader had prepared a secure bunker for himself and other senior Hezbollah officials to flee to in Syria.

The Israeli forces have also resurrected the old Voice of Lebanon radio station, once operated by Israel's military ally the South Lebanon Army before it was defeated by Hezbollah in 2000. Previously funded by Israel, frequency 103.7 is once again broadcasting the Israeli line. "Why do those people blame Israel for defending itself against terrorism?" the commentator asks in Arabic. "Why should we let terrorists bomb our homes?"

< Click for a recording of an Israeli radio broadcast to Beirut on the 103.7 FM band >
(1 August 2006, courtesy of BloggingBeirut.com)

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 24  July 2006

The Frog and the Scorpion

Another interesting leaflet dropped on 24 July is probably the only one produced by the Israelis in both black and white and full color. It uses an old adage to warn the Lebanese people that creatures that kill cannot change their nature. The light-green leaflet depicts Hassan as a scorpion crossing a river on the back of a frog, symbolically Lebanon. The frog asks the scorpion:

Why, why are you stinging me?

Hassan answers:

To sting is my nature.

This leaflet is based on an old Aesop's fable:

The Scorpion and the Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

Replies the scorpion: "It's my nature..."

According to a 1967 edition of Reader's Digest, There is a Lebanese version of the story that tells of a scorpion on the bank of the Nile who asked a frog to ferry him to the other side with the same results. In another Lebanese version of the story the frog swam across the Jordan River. Half way across the Jordan, the scorpion fatally stung the frog. When asked "Why did you do that?" the scorpion responded with the wisdom of the ages: "It's the Middle East."

The meaning of the Israeli leaflet is clear. No matter how generous Hezbollah is, how much money they give to the poor, how much food they distribute to the hungry, or how much they claim to be a legitimate political party, they are simply killers and will never change.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 25 July 2006

Hassan Nasrallah hiding behind a Lebanese family with added text

As we stated earlier, the second version of the Nasrallah hiding behind the Lebanese family with added text was dropped on 25 July.

At the same time, the Israelis reminded the international press that they had asked the Lebanese to leave the area for their safety. The text to the right of the vignette is:

To all citizens south of the Litani River

Due to the terror activities being carried out against the State of Israel from within your villages and homes, the IDF is forced to respond immediately against these activities, even within your villages.

For your safety!!!

We call upon you to evacuate your villages for your safety and move north of the Litani River.

The State of Israel

On 26 July a leaflet showing the Hezbollah leader behind a spider web was dropped by Israeli aircraft.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 26 July 2006

He promised you that Israel would be a spider's web... but he encountered a web of steel.

(Note) In another Israeli leaflet we see a similar statement:

Hassan, have you realized yet that the Israeli army not as delicate as a spider's web? It's a web of steel that will strangle you!

Problems with the United Nations UNIFIL force started to appear about the end of July. Some of these are mentioned in the Harvard University paper, The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict, Marvin Kalb, February, 2007. The author states:

UNIFIL was the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. It consisted of roughly 2,000 troops stationed along the Lebanese-Israeli border from 1978 until the end of the 2006 war. Its mandate required "full impartiality and objectivity." During the war, it published information on its official website about Israeli troop movements, information that in military circles might well be regarded as "actionable intelligence."

Take, for instance, its posting of July 25, 2006:

"Yesterday and during last night, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) moved significant reinforcements, including a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF advanced from that area north towards Bint Jubayl and south towards Yarun." Or, it's posting of July 24, which disclosed that IDF forces stationed between Marun Al Ras and Bint Jubayl were "significantly reinforced during the night and this morning with a number of tanks and armored personnel carriers."

It was part of UNIFIL's responsibility to report violations of the ceasefire, including troop movements, to the U.N., but presumably this information was to be conveyed through confidential channels, not on the Internet, where the information in wartime could be as valuable as hard, military intelligence suddenly exposed to the light.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 26 July 2006

The "Nine Tombstones" Leaflet

On 26 July, Israel dropped leaflets on Sidon listing the names of nine Hezbollah fighters it claimed were killed in the battles.

Quote from Nasrallah: "We don't have any dead or wounded."

[Nine headstones with the names of dead Hezbollah fighters]

This is only a partial list! He continues to deceive you!

(Note) The Israelis will later drop leaflets mentioning 90 and 180 dead. One wonders if the number 9 has any special significance.

Israeli TV also broadcast footage of troops transporting corpses in body bags which the military said were the bodies of Hezbollah fighters.

Meanwhile, Israel managed to intercept the satellite transmissions of Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel, replacing it with Israeli transmissions that reportedly showed Hezbollah command sites and rocket launching pads which Israel claimed it has raided.

"Your day is coming, coming, coming"
Israel hacked into the Hezbollah television network replacing the regular
programme with this footage. Nasrallah is in the cross-hairs, three gunshots
are heard."Your day is coming, coming, coming".

Israeli technicians hacked the signal and replaced it with a 90-second spot that begins with a gun sight superimposed on a crude drawing of Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, looking at the ground. The image is punctuated by the sound of three gunshots and framed on the top with the words, "Your day is coming, coming, coming." The spot goes on to show Sheik Nasrallah giving a speech in which a voice says: "There is no doubt that this is the strongest air force in the area. And we can't stand up against it." It features the view from Israeli bombers striking targets in Lebanon and ends with an announcer saying, "Nasrallah knows the truth, but he continues, as is his way, to drag Lebanon into destruction, to throw sand in your eyes."

Israel hacked into the Hezbollah television network and broadcasted this footage
Hacked Hezbollah television channel. The caption reads, "These are the dead bodies of
Hezbollah Special Forces. Many more corpses are spread all around.
Nasrallah conceals these facts from you".

The New York Sun adds:

Part of this is to instill fear," the former senior Israel Defense Force official said. "This is mostly aimed at the Hezbollah operative. This is instilling fear." The official added, however, that the most effective part of the message was that it proved Israel could take over Hezbollah's primary instrument of propaganda. "If you could destroy Al-Manar, which we all know is a platform for destroying psychological order, it is one thing. But better than destroying it is using it against them," the official said.

The London Times stated on 28 July that Israel had encouraged Jewish students to track websites and chat rooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages. Nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students have downloaded special "megaphone" software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chat rooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints.

"We're saying to these people that if Israel is being bashed, don't ignore it, change it," Mr. Cline said. "A poll like CNN's takes just a few seconds to vote in, but if thousands take part the outcome will be changed. What's vital is that the international face of the conflict is balanced - Our problem is the foreign media shows Lebanese suffering, but not Israeli. We're bypassing that filter by distributing pictures showing how northern Israelis suffer from Katyusha rocket attacks."

An Israeli attack on the village of Qana was heavily propagandized by Hezbollah because of the heavy death toll of more than 50 people killed, many of them children. One man removed the blanket covering his daughter's dead body and asked: "Is this a Hezbollah fighter? Are these missiles?" Many men yelled in the streets: "It's America, its Israel."

What is most interesting about this atrocity is that there is an excellent possibility that it is a Hezbollah disinformation operation. If so, it was very well done. Some of the discrepancies claimed for the photographs are the body count not holding up to reported 57, Hezbollah might have been launching rockets from the top of the building that was destroyed, discrepancies in published photographs of rescue operations (time stamps, evidence of staging), and photos and video that seem to show Hezbollah operating among the general population, using them as human shields. Qana had been the site of a previous massacre, so it would be a perfect propaganda operation to cause an uprising of hate among the Muslim people. However, you must remain cognizant that the concept of calling this a Hezbollah disinformation campaign might be, in fact, an Israeli disinformation campaign, so you pick your side and you hope that you are correct.

On 3 August 2006, Human Rights Watch specifically accused Israel of war crimes. The entire concept of the Israelis hitting civilian targets with an indiscriminate callousness amounting to war crimes can be called into question by simply reading Hezbollah's own admissions. On 27 May, Sheik Nasrallah had publicly stated that the guerrillas were hiding among the civilians:

Hezbollah fighters live in their houses, in their schools, in their churches, in their fields, in their farms and in their factories. You can't destroy them in the same way you would destroy an army.

Has the news been manipulated? Yes, there was a case of a Reuters photographer fired after one of the photographs by Adnan Hajj showed the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on an area of suburban Beirut. It had been manipulated using Adobe PhotoShop software to show more and darker smoke rising from the buildings. There were many comments from both sides after this photographer was found to have manipulated another photograph showing an Israeli jet fighter. However, it must be remembered that he did not originate the photo; he simply added smoke to add contrast. It was a disturbing reminder that news photos can be tinkered with.

Reuter/Adnan Hajj doctored photographs
Before and after - a bad, digitally retouched photograph by Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj.

There are numerous other cases of photo fraud. A New York Times slide show depicts two photos of a man assisting at the scene of a Beirut bombing. He later pretends to be a dead man lying in the rubble. An Associated Press photo shows the same Arab woman wailing about the destruction of her home by the Israelis on both 26 July and 5 August. U.S. News & World Report shows a photo of what they claim is a Hezbollah fighter near a downed Israeli jet that is clearly burning automobile tires at a dump. Other photos use emotional additions to increase the dramatic effect. Four different published photos from major news services such as Reuters and the Associated Press all show bombed buildings in the background, while in the foreground we see pristine and perfectly clean objects such as a wedding dress, a child's stuffed bear, Mickey Mouse and finally Minnie Mouse. One Associated Press newscast showed no less than three pristine stuffed toys sitting in the ruins of a bombed building. It is clear that many of these pictures taken by Arab photographers are meant to increase sympathy for Hezbollah.

Kalb points out:

Ravi Nessman, the senior Jerusalem correspondent of the Associated Press, thought the influence of the bloggers, especially in the United States, was "unprecedented." When the bloggers discovered that photographs had been doctored, "the credibility of the bloggers…skyrocketed and our credibility plummeted. After that everything that we did was suspect. And that makes it very difficult to cover a war, to have honest people who are trying, who are not doctoring photographs…and have everything we say be examined, which is fair, but basically be questioned as a lie, and starting with that premise that the media is lying."

Wailing Arab woman outside her allegedly bombed home on 26 July 2006.
Wailing Arab woman outside her allegedly bombed home on 26 July 2006.
The same Arab woman on 5 August
The same Arab woman on 5 August mourning
the loss of another of her bombed homes.
Brand new Minnie mouse laying in bomb damaged Lebanon
Tiger soft toy amongst Beirut bomb damage
Pristine teddy bear amongst bomb damage in Lebanon

The history of faked photos emanating from Lebanon goes back many years. Dino A. Brugioni says in Photo Fakery, Brassey's, Virginia, 1999:

Palestinians working out of Beirut released a number of fake photos, many condemning the Israelis and other opponents. As early as 1977 at its Oslo meeting, The International Press Institute examined fake photographs and captions coming from Beirut. One photo of a supposed Israeli air raid made the front page of the Washington Post. Careful examination of the photos shows that the bombers were mirror images. Experts also concluded that the Israeli bomber shown could not have executed such a maneuver so close to the ground.

Another photo, which was awarded a prize in 1977, bore the caption, "One can see how an old Palestinian woman is begging a Phalangist soldier not to separate her from her children, while the Beirut area of quarantine is burning and small children are raising their hands." However, the uniformed soldier can be identified as Palestinian by his weapon and American M-1. The Phalangists were armed with AK-47s.

The Lebanese Prime Minister was caught in what was either a case of hyperbole or just and unfounded statement. He declared that Israel had perpetrated a "massacre" and killed 40 people in the town of Houla. Later, he was forced to admit that only one person had died. When the atrocity news is broadcast everyone hears it, but I suspect that when the apologies are submitted few people hear them.

Hezbollah also placed red banners on bomb debris with messages like, "Made in the U.S." and "Smart bombs for imbeciles."

The Israelis disseminated an all-text leaflet on 29 July. The same leaflet was dropped again on 1 August, 4 August, 5 August and 12 August.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 29 July 2006

The leaflet says in part:

To the Citizens of Southern Lebanon

The situation in southern Lebanon will continue to be dangerous as long as the Army of the State of Lebanon and the United Nations forces are not deployed on all of the territory of southern Lebanon.

For your safety!

We warn you to avoid the southern area until the deployment of the forces which are tasked with your protection and security in this area.

The State of Israel

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 29 July 2006

The above leaflet was also dropped on 29 July. The text is:

To the Citizens of Lebanon

Hassan promised you that Israel would be a "spider web," and then was surprised when he collided with the state of Israel and its army to find it was a "web of steel."

Hassan promised you that Israel would be afraid to retaliate for the attack on it's sovereignty but was surprised at the strength of the attack against him and his party, and of the strength of the Israeli Defense Forces and State of Israel.

Citizen of Lebanon.

Hassan ignited the fire like a child playing with matches, and thought that he would achieve his goals and his ignoble master's goals, but discovered that the fire of the Israeli Defense Force was much stronger than he had anticipated.

Hassan continues to play his game and continues to destroy Lebanon. Will he understand that he was wrong and end your suffering and dispair?

The State of Israel

Another all-text leaflet was dropped on 30 July. It was the same leaflet first dropped on 24 July.

A longer all-text message was dropped on 31 July:

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 31 July 2006

Calling Hezbollah Militia to drop their weapons and surrender

The Israeli Defense Force is determined to eliminate the rocket threat toward the State of Israel and stop terrorism from Lebanon. The Israeli Defense Force will continue to work for as long as possible with all their strength to clear South Lebanon of rocket and terrorist bases.

The Israeli Defense Force's operations in Maron A-Ras, Bint Jbeil and al-Tiba are merely examples of what the IDF can do.

Hezbollah Militia in Southern Lebanon.

Your respectable leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is protected in an underground shelter, in his cave with his family and friends.

Some people say that he ran far, far away to a territory where the sound of artillery cannot be heard, while you bleed and fight for him against the Lebanese national interest.

We are asking you wherever you are to stop for one minute, and think for whose interest you are fighting? To reach the correct answer and drop your weapons and immediately stop fighting the Israeli Defense Force and return home to your families safe and unharmed while you still can.

Hezbollah Militia:

Your lives are very precious and more valuable than Iran and the "goal" you are dying for.

They are very precious in the eyes and hearts of your mothers and sons, so safeguard your lives for the sake of them and for their future.

Note: On 25 July the Israeli Defense Force occupied the area stretching between the village of Maron al-Ras (Maroun al-Ras) and the town of Bint Jbeil (Bent Jubail) in the central region of southern Lebanon. The victory came after a week of hard fighting. The Israeli Army, paratroopers, and armored corps forces with aerial backup completed the takeover with the loss of nine Israelis soldiers. Lieutenant Colonel Itzik Ronen of the 7th Armored Division said:

We are currently occupied with collecting evidence, the bodies of Hezbollah terrorists, and conducting interviews, while preparing for the next stage.

A third all-text leaflet was dropped on 1 August. It is the same leaflet first dropped on 29 July.

On 2 August, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over Nabatiyeh in south Lebanon calling on Hezbollah guerrillas to surrender and warning them that "we will get you wherever you flee." The leaflets were dropped a day after Israeli commandos stormed a Hezbollah-run hospital in Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, where Israel said it killed 10 guerrillas and captured five.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 2 August 2006

The leaflet text is:

To Hezbollah

Israeli Defense Forces worked courageously and strongly against the hideouts of your gang in Baalbek last night.

You should know that you will not be able to run away and we will get you wherever you go, whether over or underground.

Your leaders have abandoned you and fled after sending you to death for the sake of foreign interests.

You have only one alternative:

SURRENDER!

The State of Israel

The Israelis dropped two all-text leaflets on 3 August. The text of one is:

Israeli propaganda leaflet

To Beirut Residents

Due to the continued launching of wild firing rockets by the terrorist Hezbollah gang toward the state of Israel, and following the gang leader's declarations, that continue to gamble on Lebanon's future - the Israel Defense Force intends to widen its activities in the suburbs of Beirut.

Residents of Haret Hreik, Beer al-Abed, Hay Madi and Alweis

For your own safety!

You must immediately leave these suburbs as well as any place in which Hezbollah terrorist elements or their followers are taking part in terrorist activities.

Attention!

The expansion of terrorist operations by Hezbollah will lead to a painful and harsh response by the Israel Defense Force and the results will be painful not only for Hassan's gang and its criminals.

The State of Israel

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 3 August 2006

Israel Second Leaflet - 3 August

To the People of Lebanon

The Israel Defense Force acted strongly and courageously in Balbak, the Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist's center, to protect the people of Israel and return the kidnapped Israel Defense Force.

You should know that the Israel Defense Force will continue to extend its operations wherever there are terrorists from Hezbollah to stop them from carrying out their ideology of terror against the people of Israel.

People of Lebanon

The Israel Defense Force is not working against the people of Lebanon but against the terrorist guerilla fighters of Hezbollah, and will continue to operate for as long as needed.

Don't allow Hezbollah to hold you hostage and use you as a human shield for the benefit of foreign countries.

The State of Israel

Note: The Israelis bombed Balbak (also called Baalbak) on 31 July and 1 August and landed commandoes by helicopter next to Dar al-Hekmah Hospital. The Israeli commandos snatched five suspected Hezbollah guerrillas in the helicopter raid.

The Israelis raided the same town a second time a week after the ceasefire to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah. That 19 August commando raid was less successful and an Israeli Defense Force officer was killed; another officer sustained serious injuries in the operation, while a third was lightly wounded.

The Independent wrote on 4 August that:

Israeli aircraft had earlier bombed the southern suburbs of Beirut ­ an area where Hezbollah bases itself ­ and dropped leaflets warning civilian residents in three neighborhoods to leave. The army had indicated on Wednesday that it would be for the cabinet to decide on a resumption of bombing in Beirut's heavily populated southern neighborhoods.

On 4 August it was reported that Israeli military dropped leaflets over the Lebanese city of Sidon asking residents to leave their homes and move north and warning that Hezbollah rocket launching sites were about to be targeted. An Israeli army spokesman said that "We dropped leaflets warning residents to leave because the army will attack Hezbollah rocket launching sites in Sidon." We have no record of such a drop occurring on that date.

On 8 August, Israeli aircraft dropped all-text leaflets over Tyre explaining that any cars seen moving in southern Lebanon on the roads south of the Litani River will be targeted. The text is:

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 8 August 2006

To Lebanese citizens located south of the Litani River

Read this statement carefully and follow its instructions

The Israeli Defense Forces will escalate their operations and strike with extreme force against the terrorist elements that are using you as human shields and firing rockets from inside your homes at the state of Israel.

Any vehicles, no matter what type, moving south of the Litani River will be bombed, because they will be suspected of transporting rockets, military supplies or saboteurs.

You must be aware that anyone moving in any vehicle is exposing his life to danger.

The State of Israel

Meanwhile, Hezbollah struck back with its own propaganda campaign on 8 August. The terrorist organization handed out bundles of Iranian-supplied cash to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing. This campaign was aimed at consolidating the Iranian-backed group's support among Lebanon's Shiites and embarrassing the Beirut government. Individuals whose homes were bombed were handed $12,000 in banknotes wrapped in tissue paper.

Israeli propaganda leaflets
(Courtesy of Marco Di Lauro / Getty)

On 9 August, the Israelis dropped leaflets on Tyre criticizing Hezbollah leader Nasrallah. The skies above the abandoned city of Tyre were alive with warplanes, surveillance drones and attack helicopters. The only way into Tyre is to wade across a river outside the city, since Israel bombed the makeshift bridge connecting it to the main road north. Leaflets dropped on those who chose not to flee said anyone seen on the streets would now be deemed a runner for Hezbollah.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 9 August 2006

An Israeli plane dropped a canister scattering propaganda leaflets which said:

To Lebanese Citizens

Why has Hassan attacked the State of Israel?

Is it for freeing Lebanese detainees from Israeli jails?

Hassan could have released them a long time ago through serious negotiation without bringing disaster to Lebanon.

Hassan has gambled dangerously and returned with nothing.

Hassan is playing with fire and now Lebanon is burning.

Hassan has gambled with your future and now you are paying the price.

The State of Israel.

On 10 August, Israeli forces bombed the heart of the Lebanese capitol for the first time in three weeks. They warned that the Israeli Defense Forces intended to expand their operations in Beirut and blamed "the leader of the gang" - an apparent reference to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who made a taped television address the night before. They air-dropped leaflets over Beirut warning the residents of these suburbs to evacuate. At the same time, Israeli forces took control of the strategic southern hub of Marjayoun and warned that its fight against Hezbollah could grow wider and more severe if diplomacy fails. The leaflet is the same one first dropped on 3 August, "To Beirut Residents."

At the same time, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over northern Lebanon for the first time. They warned that all trucks must be off the roads by 8:00 p.m. The leaflets fell north of Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, some 25 kilometers from the Syrian border. The blanketed area includes the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi.

The leaflet said in part:

Any pick-up or truck of any kind moving on the coastal road as of 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) will be attacked because it is suspected of carrying rockets, military hardware and saboteurs.

You must know that anyone who moves in a pick-up or truck is endangering his life.

The State of Israel

It was unclear whether the curfew would be 24-hours a day, starting on Thursday night, or whether it was only a night-time ban on traffic.

On 11 August, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets on the port city of Sidon and the capitol city of Beirut accusing Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah of hiding facts about the "great losses" among the Hezbollah fighters. The leaflet contained "the first list" of names of more than 90 (other reports say "100") alleged Hezbollah members killed in fighting with Israeli troops. The leaflet said Nasrallah was "killing your children for nothing." Hezbollah replied that only 58 of its guerrillas died in clashes since Israel began its onslaught on Lebanon on July 12 in response to a cross-border raid by the Shiite militia. Israel claims a total of about 300 Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 11 August 2006

Some of the text is:

Nasrallah is cheating you and hiding from you the great losses in the ranks of Hezbollah members.

The following is a list of some names of those killed whom Nasrallah has abandoned and denied their deaths.

Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets over Lebanon's capital for a third straight day on 12 August, calling on residents to "shake off" Hezbollah. The leaflet depicted Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah peeking out from the branches of a cedar tree, Lebanon's national symbol. At about the same time the Israelis were dropping scented car fresheners with the same vignette.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 12 August 2006

The text said in part:

Shake off your shoulders the destroyer of Lebanon.

You can return the cedar odor to Lebanon if you want to!!!

They also dropped two all text leaflets.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 12 August 2006

The Israelis dropped leaflets over West Beirut. Many were carried out to sea by a south wind. The leaflets warned Nasrallah to leave Lebanon. The message was that Hezbollah is the source of Lebanon's problems. This leaflet is the one first dropped on 29 July and then on four subsequent dates.

The IDF also hacked broadcasts of Hezbollah radio and television with recordings announcing the names of the dead Hezbollah members. One radio message stated:

Hassan sent men to fight the Israeli army, an army of steel, without preparing them. Stop listening to patriotic chants for a moment, think about it and come back to Earth.

They also cut into television broadcasts to show Israeli air attacks on Hezbollah strongholds and even cockpit camera pictures. In one instance they showed a dead guerrilla while the announcer stated:

This is the corpse of one of the members of Hezbollah's Special Forces. Hassan Nasrallah lies. We're not the ones who are hiding the real numbers of our dead.

Al Manar Television admitted that the Israelis had succeeded in creating static and other signal interruptions at least 10 times and had managed to broadcast their own images for a few minutes on three occasions. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the hacking was the work of the army's intelligence corps.

Hezbollah retaliated, broadcasting Al Manar television from hidden locations despite repeated Israeli bombings. It repeated Israeli fears about the war. Hassan Nasrallah said:

They do not want their people and our own people to see the magnitude of the human, material and moral losses they suffered in this war. This is part of the psychological warfare employed by the enemy. These are facts that the enemy cannot hide from its people or from us or from the entire world for a long time.

Al Manar also told its viewers that Israel lied about how many Lebanese fighters had been killed, how many Hezbollah rockets had been seized and which Lebanese villages had been captured. It also aired an image of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert bearing a Hitler-like mustache, pictures of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and images of President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 13 August 2006
Israeli leaflet dropped on 13 August

To the people of Beirut

As a result of the Hezbollah's continued launching of missiles towards Israel and the statements of the leader of this group who continues to gamble the future of Lebanon, the Israel Defense Force intends to expand its operation in Beirut.

Districts of Harik, Ber Abd, Rwais,
Burj Barjina, Salam, Shyah,
Gabiri, Sfair, and Rodof.

For your safety!

You have to evacuate the above areas at once and every site where there are Hezbollah members or their supporters.

Be aware!!

The expansion of the terrorist operations of Hezbollah will lead to a painful retaliation, and not only against Hassan's members.

The State of Israel

Two hours before a cease-fire went into effect on Monday morning 14 August, the IDF dropped leaflets on central Beirut warning it will retaliate for any attack launched against it from Lebanon.

One leaflet said in part:

To Lebanese Citizens

Hezbollah, which is serving its Iranian and the Syrian masters, has driven you to the edge of the abyss.

With its isolationist, reckless and false policy, Hezbollah has brought you many achievements: hopelessness, destruction, displacement and death.

Can you pay this price again?

Let it be known!

The Israeli Defense Forces will return and retaliate with the required force against any terrorist act that is launched from Lebanon to harm the State of Israel.

The State of Israel

Israel also dropped leaflets on 14 August depicting Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah building a sand castle threatened by a huge wave. The leaflets were planned to be dropped one hour before the ceasefire took effect. A Beirut resident says that he caught one of the leaflets in the air at 0900 that morning in front of the St. George Hotel. The text is:

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 14 August 2006

Hezbollah's path is what destroyed Lebanon.

"He built me a castle of illusions where I can only live for a few moments, then I sit at the table with nothing ... but words."

It is interesting to note that the text of the song is from the words of a popular Lebanese singer, Magda Al-Roumi. The Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani describes in his poem "Kalimat" ("words") the disappointment a woman feels towards her lover, who built her a castle of dreams, made only of words and not of real and concrete things. The implication is that like the girl's lover, Nasrallah's speeches to the Lebanese people builds an illusionary castle made of nothing but words and lies. This illusionary castle brought upon Lebanon death and destruction.

This is not the first time an Arabic song was used in a propaganda leaflet. During Operation Desert Storm the 4th PSYOP Group with the aid of Saudi propagandists disseminated a leaflet showing an Iraqi soldier carrying Saddam Hussein on his back. A Jordanian master sergeant attached to my unit saw the leaflet and started humming a tune. When I asked him why he was humming, he said that the text was a parody of a popular Iraqi song telling of a man's difficulties with his love.

I crossed the Shatt al Arab as you wished, and I obeyed your orders.
I feel death at the door, I feel I am at my last breath and I sigh deeply.

It was not only propaganda leaflets that the Israelis dropped on Lebanon. They also dropped at least one cedar-scented automobile deodorizer in the shape of the national symbol of Lebanon, the cedar tree. The propaganda aspect was the tiny head of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah peeking out from behind the tree, symbolically hiding behind and among the people of Lebanon. One report stated that "Hundreds of people were scrambling the streets to pick up the Cedars - If anyone is reading this from the Israeli Defense Forces; you have to know that these are the sort of creative things that work... It's much better than throwing leaflets with a list of the names of 100 Hezbollah soldiers dead." There is a brief text at the bottom of the air freshener that quotes a well known Lebanese saying that means "Get lost," but is said as:

Leave in good smell

Israeli dropped cedar tree automobile deodorizer
Leave in good smell
(Courtesy of Beirut Live blog)

I spoke to a source in Lebanon who told me that the air fresheners were very popular. However, as we have seen in recent conflicts where soldiers and civilians were told that enemy leaflets had been laced with infectious disease, apparently there was an attempt on the part of Hezbollah to convince the Lebanese that the air fresheners had been irradiated by the Israelis and were deadly to handle.

Israel silenced its big guns and called back its aircraft at 0800 on 14 August as the U.N. brokered cease-fire with Hezbollah took effect. Up until the last moment it had battered Beirut and south Lebanon with artillery in a final frenzied offensive -- capped by an Israeli air force leaflet drop that warned the Lebanese it would retaliate if Hezbollah attacked. Hezbollah had returned the favor, firing 220 rockets into northern Israel and attempting to send a truck bomb into the Israeli city of Metulla as the cease fire approached. Israel suffered more than 130 killed, 41 of them civilians during the 34 days and more than 3,500 Hezbollah rocket attacks,. At the same time, Lebanon reported more than 1,000 civilians killed in Israeli air strikes and ground battles. Israel claimed it killed more than 550 Hezbollah fighters. A senior air force source said that since the start of fighting, the force had carried out more than 10,000 sorties.

Our main mission was the disruption of the rocket attacks against Israel, mainly the long-range rocket capabilities of Hezbollah, and our successes have been substantial. We have also flown hundreds of infantry and evacuated dozens of injured - both complex and dangerous missions.

Lebanese civilians began returning to their homes in the south as soon as the cease-fire took effect. The Israelis felt this could lead to further deaths since the Lebanese Army and UN peace-keeping troops had not yet occupied the areas formally used as Hezbollah strongholds. Should Hezbollah fire rockets into Israel, retribution and retaliation is sure. As a result, the IDF dropped leaflets on 15 August warning residents displaced by the month-long conflict not to return home before the deployment of the Lebanese army. Leaflets were reported over the port city of Tyre and the city of Nabatiyeh about 13 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Israeli propaganda leaflet dropped 15 August 2006

To the People of Southern Lebanon

The situation in the south will remain dangerous as long as the State of Lebanon has not deployed the Lebanese military and international forces in all the territories in the south of Lebanon.

For your safety!

We warn you not to head to the south before the deployment of the forces that are supposed to safeguard your security in that area.

The leadership of the Israeli Defense Force

There are still occasional reports of previously unknown Israeli leaflets distributed over Lebanon. In one recent study of the war the author stated that Israel dropped leaflets in the south of Lebanon ridiculing Hezbollah's patriot slogan in an attempt to erode its popular support. What was originally:

The Resistance protects the Nation, the Nation protects the Resistance.

Was changed to:

The Resistance protects the Nation; the Nation is the victim of the Resistance.

 

Israeli propaganda leaflet - Mashal gambles on the future of Palestine and brings you disappointment, despair and destruction

This leaflet was originally identified as used in the Israel-Lebanon war. I had a record of all leaflets used in that war and this item was not among them. The text indicates that it was used in Gaza instead. It shows an individual placing bets on a roulette wheel. The text is:

Mashal gambles on the future of Palestine and brings you disappointment, despair and destruction.

Town names seem to be on the roulette wheel but because of the poor resolution we can't be certain. The card furthest to the right says "future" but the rest are difficult to see.

The individual on the leaflet is Khaled Mashal, also known as Khaled Mashaal or Khalid Mish'al. He is a Palestinian exile and the political leader of Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement) since 2004.

 

Hezbollah Psychological Operations

Once the war was over and it became apparent that Hezbollah had fought the Israelis to a stand-still, there were dozens of articles published in various military articles attempting to analyze how the Guerillas had managed to fight the better equipped and better armed Israeli Defense Force. Frederick M. Wehrey wrote an article entitled "A Clash of Wills: Hizballah's Psychological Campaign Against Israel in South Lebanon" for Small Wars and Insurgencies. Wehrey spoke about the conflict prior to the 2006 war, but his facts are still relevant. He said:

Although Hizballah continually debates its strategic and ideological orientation, three major trends are discernible in its effort to mobile the Shiites: the use of Iranian revolutionary doctrine, the propagation of a martyrdom ethos, and the provision of social services.

…Hezbollah's strategy of psychological warfare confounded Israel's efforts to defeat the movement through firepower alone…would seem to validate Sun Tzu's timeless counsel: "One need not destroy one's enemy. One need only destroy his willingness to engage.

Ron Scheifer adds in an article entitled "Psychological Operations: a New Variation on an Age-old Art: Hezbollah versus Israel, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism:

The visual media proved one of Hezbollah's most effective weapons. Stills, videos, and film became so central to the organization's military activities that it might reasonably be claimed that they dictated both its overall strategy and daily operations. Indeed, the organization's motto could be summed up in the words: "If you haven't captured it on film you haven't fought."

It was not conventional military thinking that determined what Hezbollah would attack and why, with the traditional military goals of gaining control of territory, acquiring intelligence, or destroying military equipment, giving way to PSYOP-oriented objectives. When deciding on and planning an operation the organization would calculate its psychological impact on the enemy.

Hezbollah targeted Israel's allies, the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA). It declared that any SLA member deserting would receive an automatic amnesty. In addition, if they had joined the Christian army for financial reasons, Hezbollah promised them a generous bonus when they defected.

Hezbollah also produced leaflets. On one occasion they prepared leaflets for the Israeli Arabs living in Haifa and warned them to leave the city immediately or risk being killed by rockets. At the time, about 40% of all the victims of the Hezbollah rockets were Israeli Arabs.

The New York Sun pointed out that:

Hezbollah has a special unit that specializes in communication and psychological warfare. This unit is dealing with Al-Manar in the promotion of the image of Hezbollah. For many years, they have been strong, using television to try to demolish the morale of the soldiers and the population of Israel. They were filming their terror operations, for example. One team specialized in filming the operations. When they were successful, the film was given to everyone in the world. Sheik Nasrallah's recent threat to strike Tel Aviv and a petrochemical facility in Haifa was a form of psychological warfare.

A Lebanese boy shows a leaflet distributed by Hezbollah supporters
A Lebanese boy shows a leaflet distributed by
Hezbollah supporters congratulating Lebanon
on its 'big victory' and thanking citizens for their
patience during the 34-day war with Israel,
near the town of Zahrani, south of the port
city of Sidon, Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 14, 2006.

As the cease-fire of 14 August approached, Hezbollah printed and disseminated their own leaflets congratulating Lebanon on its "great victory" and thanking citizens for their patience during the 34-day war with Israel. The leaflets were distributed to cars heading south on the Zahrani highway, which connects the southern cities of Nabatiyeh, Tyre and Sidon. The leaflet said in part: "Congratulations to you on the great victory, with the support of God, the mujahedeen (holy warriors) and your patience." The leaflet warned the readers not to touch any suspicious objects, which could be unexploded ordnance.

Elias Kayyal, an officer of the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center holds a leaflet depicting unexploded ordinance in the village of Al Bayyadah, southern Lebanon

 

Hezbollah Collection Box propaganda leaflet
Hezbollah Collection Box
(Courtesy of the Center for Special Studies)

Other leaflets captured by the Israelis showed how Hezbollah terrorists raised money in local villages for weapons. The vignette on the leaflet makes it clear that contributions will be used to buy weapons to destroy Israel. The illustrated side of the leaflet depicts coins dropping into a collection box in the form of the Dome of the Rock and dropping out as bullets which shatter the Star of David. There is also a small portrait of Abbas Musawi, the former Hezbollah leader who was killed by Israel. The text is:

So that all our houses may be part of the resistance - This is a resistance collection box - place it in your house.

The other side of the leaflet is all text and states in part:

Your support is a mark of honor, and your participation is pride; together we will defend the homeland

Hezbollah Children's kit
Hezbollah Children's kit
(Courtesy of the Center for Special Studies)

Another interesting form of PSYOP product is a kit that contains various propaganda slogans, questions and a subtle indoctrination of children into the Hezbollah philosophy. It also contains a request for donations and an envelope to be used to send the money. We depict one of the propaganda pages of the kit depicting a child waving a Hezbollah flag over an Israeli tank with one hand and making the "V" sign for victory with the other. The text is:

The competition of the youth of victory - 2006

The competition will held to celebrate "Islamic Resistance Week" dedicated to the memory of the deaths as martyrs of two of the organization leaders, Sheikh Ragheb Harb and Al-Sayyid Abbas Musawi (and his family).

The use of propaganda leaflets, flyers and posters does not end with the termination of conflict. As U.N. and civilian organizations moved in to help the nation of Lebanon recover, they produced leaflets warning the population not to touch items that might be undetonated armaments. In the 20 August picture above, Elias Kayyal, an officer of the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center holds a leaflet depicting unexploded ordinance in the village of Al Bayyadah, southern Lebanon.

Reuters reported on 21 August that the bombing of south Lebanon by Israel had cost tobacco farmers their crop. Farmers in Qana will not go into the hills and valleys around their village because of the danger of unexploded bombs. The farmers were issued leaflets warning them not to approach "strange bodies," the phrase used by the Lebanese to describe the bombs. According to Reuters, the United Nations estimates that there could be 8,000 to 9,000 unexploded bombs in the south. At the same time, the U.N. is distributing returnee packages to refugees containing water, biscuits, wet towels and re-hydration salts. The United Nations Children's Fund has printed 50,000 mine awareness leaflets and includes one in each package.

In what may be close to an apology. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on 27 August:

We did not think, even 1% that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on 11 June that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say No, absolutely not.

This story is probably far from ended. Although there is a cease-fire, it is likely that Israel and Hezbollah will continue to snipe at each other and there will be additional leaflet operations.

On 1 October the Israeli troops in Lebanon abandoned almost all of their positions, a key step toward fulfilling a major condition of the truce that ended the month long war against Hezbollah. The last Israeli soldiers crossed the border at 0230, ahead of the onset of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. The pre-dawn pullout put a formal end to a nearly three-month troop incursion. Some Israeli troops are still in a divided village of Ghajar that straddles the Israel-Lebanon border and Israel said that it would continue surveillance flights, which both Lebanon and the U.N. consider a violation of the border. Israel has been gradually withdrawing troops since the cease-fire went into effect, from a peak of 30,000 during the fighting to several hundred soldiers in recent weeks. Some 10,000 Lebanese soldiers and more than 5,000 U.N. troops have been deployed in the south to keep the peace and disarm Hezbollah. Now that the Israelis have left, 15,000 UNIFIL soldiers are expected to patrol the border with an equal number of Lebanese Army troops.

The Divine Victory claims this Hezbollah banner
(Courtesy of AP-Kevork Djansezian)

Since the end of the war Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has enlisted advertising agencies to help spread Hezbollah's message. Part of the Islamists' new strategy is a $100,000 advertising blitz called "Divine Victory," featuring more than 600 billboards around Beirut and Southern Lebanon touting Hezbollah's exploits during the 34-day war. Signs along the road to Beirut from the city's international airport read "America and its tools have been defeated" in English. A Beirut ad agency firm called Idea Creation designed the campaign. Some principles espoused by the agency:

1. Lower the message density: Get straight to the point. Use a simple message like "Divine Victory" and repeat it over and over.

2. Speak in the lingua franca. Hezbollah's billboards are in English and bear simple messages like "Made in the U.S.A." with scenes of bombed buildings.

3. Employ irony. One Hezbollah ad features the slogan "Extremely accurate targets!" juxtaposed against the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs.

4. Sanitize the images. Depicting bloody bodies can be counterproductive. Show bodies wrapped in blankets, but avoid the most horrific scenes.

Walter S. Adler mentions some of the Hezbollah civil affairs and PSYOP programs in Hezbollah: The Sustainability of Asymmetrical Warfare. He points out that Hezbollah's "Social Unit" is responsible for a vast network of social welfare programs. For instance, the Holy Struggle Construction Foundation builds hospitals, schools, homes, mosques and agricultural cooperatives for the people. The Martyrs Foundation provides healthcare and education for the families of Hezbollah fighters killed in action. The Foundation for the Wounded and Khomeini Support Committee serve as welfare agencies for civilians hurt during conflicts with Israel.

Wehrey adds:

Hezbollah's Martyr's Foundation spent over 90 million over a four-year period on the families of wounded and dead fighters. Following Israel's air and artillery strikes in 1966, Hezbollah claimed to have rebuilt more than 5,000 Shiite homes in 82 villages and paid compensation to 2,300 farmers. One if its hospitals, better equipped than government facilities treats approximately 60,000 women and 10,000 children each year.

The Psychological warfare arm of Hezbollah is championed by the Al-Manar satellite television station, four radio stations and five newspapers. Hezbollah also broadcasts programs in Hebrew designed to convince Israel of the futility of aggression and occupation. One Hebrew-language show is entitled "Who's next?" and during the war ran an updated photo gallery of dead Israeli soldiers. Al-Manar established a "Hebrew Observation Department" comprised of Hebrew speakers who monitor Israeli radio and TV broadcasts 24 hours a day. Its primary radio station al-Nur can broadcast in Hebrew into Israel's central cities. Its newspaper al-Ahd (The Promise) supplements the Parties radio and TV sites. The Internet also serves as a forum for Hezbollah to disseminate the speeches of its major ideologues. Perhaps the most interesting Hezbollah campaign was a video game for Muslim children called "Special Force." The game allows the children to play an Islamic Resistance Fighter and kill Israeli soldiers and assassinate Israeli politicians. Hezbollah claims sales of 100,000 such games in the Middle East.

Andrew Exum mentions al-Manar in an article entitled "Illegal Attack or Legitimate Target? Israel Attacks al-Manar," published in Arab Media & Society, February 2007 . He points out the relationship between al-Manar and Hezbollah and mentions a music video entitled Death to Israel:

Write in running blood: Death! Death! Death to Israel!
And cause with the exploding body death! Death!
Death to Israel! … From the land of angry
Jerusalem, drive out the raping occupier. Expel from your house that one,
that Zionist humiliated.

Exum adds:

Among the many targets hit by Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict were the headquarters of Al Manar, Hezbollah's satellite television station. Also destroyed were relay stations in northern Lebanon used to broadcast two other Lebanese television stations, LBC and Al Mustaqbal.

Some Israeli officials have said privately that the Hezbollah campaign is very effective and has helped to win some public opinion over to the side of the organization.

Probably the most threatening lesson to be learned from this short conflict was that slowly and gradually the Western powers are losing their technological edge. Iason Athanasiadis pointed out in Asia Times that:

Israeli electronic warfare systems were unable to jam the systems at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut and they proved unable to jam Hezbollah's command and control links from Lebanon to Iranian facilities in Syria. Hezbollah was able to block the Israeli Barak ship anti-missile system and they hacked into Israeli operations communications in the field. Part of the reason for Hezbollah's decisive battlefield performance was that it was gleaning valuable information by monitoring telephone conversations in Hebrew between Israeli reservists and their families on their personal mobile phones.

Jacob Levich, said in an Aspects of India's Economy article entitled "A Counter-Revolution in Military Affairs?"

Even more disturbing to US theoreticians, Hezbollah's successful defense of southern Lebanon in 2006 provided evidence that a well-organized guerilla force can beat the high-tech West at its own game. Hezbollah flummoxed Israel's satellite and over-flight intelligence with decoys, developed counter-signals technology that cracked encrypted radio communications, and intercepted key battlefield information simply by listening in on IDF soldiers' cell phone calls to their families.

Anthony H. Cordesman adds in Preliminary Lessons of the Israel – Hezbollah War:

Although Israeli electronic intelligence is close to, or superior to, that available to US force, modern technology does not provide the kind of sensors, protection, and weapons that can prevent a skilled urban force from forcing Israel or the US to fight it largely on its own terms.

The implication seems to be that the American and Israeli belief in the sophistication and invincibility of their high-tech electronics might be a thing of the past. The poorest country can produce excellent hackers.

Dr. Pierre Cyril Pahlavi says in "The 33-Day War: An Example of Psychological Warfare in the Information Age" in The Canadian Army Journal, summer 2007:

Barely had the fighting stopped when it became apparent that the military failure was compounded by economic discomfiture. The initial estimates indicated that the cost of the 33-day war for the Israelis exceeded 4 billion euros, equivalent to 10% of the government budget… the losses related to industrial and tourist activity were approximately 1.2 billion euros, more than 1% of the gross domestic product…

Studying the Israeli propaganda leaflets I thought that they had done a good job of pointing out that Hezbollah was the villain and cause of the death and destruction in Lebanon. That belief was not universal. Several years later in 2009 when Israel had retaliated against Hamas rocket attacks against southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, Ulrike Putz discussed their propaganda in an article entitled "Psychological Tricks to Demoralize the Enemy" in Spiegel Online International. He said:

It was three years ago that Israel's army launched its department of psychological warfare. But its debut was less than stunning. During the Lebanon war in 2006, Israelis dropped poorly-made leaflets down on Shiite civilians in southern Lebanon. The pamphlets included a simplistic drawing of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah cowering behind a cedar tree, Lebanon's national symbol. The clumsily-delivered message was apparently that Lebanon's Shiite militia was hiding behind the country's civilians.

These flyers did not have the desired effect. Instead, the Lebanese showed them to visitors for months on end to show the Israeli army's naiveté. Many wondered whether Israel had honestly thought their pamphlets would change Lebanese minds.

But in the last two and a half years, Israel's army has learned a thing or two about psychological warfare. For one, they've captured the airways -- but for another, they've also improved their flyers. Pamphlets dropped on the Gaza Strip refrain from relying on simplistic propaganda images. Instead, they provide telephone numbers and e-mail addresses -- Palestinians can use them should they want to report the whereabouts of Hamas leaders or weapons caches…

…Israeli military speakers have for days been reporting that their generals in the field have observed scores of demoralized Hamas fighters deserting. The claim can't be confirmed -- but it definitely affects morale. It strengthens the Israeli population's will to continue; and in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli media is the main source of information, this message raises questions about whether Hamas may, in fact, be on its last legs.

Michael Provence, an Associate professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of California, San Diego, was teaching at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon at the time of the Israeli attack. He agrees with Putz about the weakness of the leaflets in winning the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people:

I saw a good number of leaflets and witnessed other types of Israeli offensive operations during the first ten days of the war. Before the war, the Lebanese public was divided in its attitude toward Hezbollah, but the Israeli offensive, and particularly operations outside the south, caused a large-scale realignment of Lebanese opinion in favor of Hezbollah, in my judgment. I think the leaflets were part of this realignment. I observed Lebanese reacting to the leaflets and cell phone calls in two ways, which seemed to cut across the normal cleavages of Lebanese society, in other words Christians, Druze, Shi'is Sunnis, rich, poor, educated and uneducated seemed to react similarly.

The first reaction was dismay and derision at the crudeness of the leaflets, especially the cartoons. The reaction typically went something like, "how stupid must they be if they think we’re this stupid?"

The second typical reaction, particularly of the written leaflets, warning of operations in villages and neighborhoods, and cautioning people to evacuate, was that such warnings were intended to instill widespread terror in the non-combatant population. Lebanese knew that the roads and bridges had been destroyed and that normal movement was impossible. Each day convoys of taxis and vehicles evacuating the south were destroyed in air strikes, and it became impossible to hire a taxi at any price.

These leaflets too had the effect of creating the impression that Hezbollah was the only protector of all Lebanese. It is important to note that these feelings dissipated within a few months, but during the war, Israeli operations of all types were very clearly counterproductive in undermining support for Hezbollah; support which swelled tremendously in Lebanon and the region during 2006.

If any reader cares to contact the author about any aspect of this story and particularly if you care to help or correct any of the Arabic translations you are invited, in fact encouraged, to write to him at sgmbert@hotmail.com.

 

 

 
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