Hezbollah’s Radwan Unit was tasked with leading the assault on the Galilee.
By Jack Gold, World Israel News
The exposure of Hezbollah’s tunneling efforts by Israel’s Operation Northern Shield has brought renewed attention on the “elite” Hezbollah force that would have let the attack through those tunnels.
The special forces Radwan unit is named after Al-Hajj Radwan, the nom de guerre of Hezbollah’s late infamous military chief Imad Mughniyeh, who was reportedly assassinated in a joint Israeli-US operation in Damascus in February 2008.
Hezbollah’s Radwan Unit is trained to execute raids and small unit tactics, including ambushes, assassinations, and operations that require deep infiltration.
The unit is secretive and is regarded as professional, able and tough, excelling in the art of clandestine operations, “the pride of Hezbollah leaders,” Arab media outlets say.
The unit has accumulated experience while operating in Syria and fighting alongside the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Its former commander, Hatem Hamadi, was killed in action in Syria in October 2016.
General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps., reportedly personally oversaw the unit’s establishment and training.
Israeli daily Maariv reports that the unit’s establishment was planned by Mughniyeh immediately after the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He recognized the importance of a special forces unit as a result of that war.
The unit recruited young men with high athletic abilities and an advanced education, and in recent years it has absorbed many young fighters, who were persuaded to join in return for monetary rewards to fight alongside the Syrian regime “in order to protect the Shiite holy sites” in the country.
The unit’s arduous training includes running long distances, crawling in mountainous terrain, training in hand-to-hand combat and firearms. The final goal is to prepare the force for a battle with the IDF.
Radwan recruits also receive theoretical and practical courses on military issues inside Lebanon and Iran and study the special methods of close combat fighting.
Despite efforts at secrecy surrounding the unit, Arab media say that the force is led by Haitham Ali Tabatabai, who in October 2016 was placed on America’s list of wanted terrorists. Reports claim that Israel tried to kill Tabatabai, known as Abu Ali, more than once.