Israel's Long War with Hezbollah

Military Innovation and Adaptation Under Fire

Raphael D. Marcus

"This book is a must read, a precious source of knowledge for anyone interested in the conflict between Israel and Hizb’allah."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is now in its fourth decade and shows no signs of ending. Raphael D. Marcus examines this conflict since the formation of Hezbollah during Israel’s occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s. He critically evaluates events including Israel’s long counterguerrilla campaign throughout the 1990s, the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, the 2006 summer war, and concludes with an assessment of current tensions on the border between Israel and Lebanon related to the Syrian civil war.

Israel’s Long War with Hezbollah is both the first complete military history of this decades-long conflict and an analysis of military innovation and adaptation. The book is based on unique fieldwork in Israel and Lebanon, extensive research into Hebrew and Arabic primary sources, and dozens of interviews Marcus conducted with Israeli defense officials, high-ranking military officers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), United Nations personnel, a Hezbollah official, and Western diplomats. As an expert on organizational learning, Marcus analyzes ongoing processes of strategic and operational innovation and adaptation by both the IDF and Hezbollah throughout the long guerrilla conflict. His conclusions illuminate the dynamics of the ongoing conflict and illustrate the complexity of military adaptation under fire.

With Hezbollah playing an ongoing role in the civil war in Syria and the simmering hostilities on the Israel-Lebanon border, students, scholars, diplomats, and military practitioners with an interest in Middle Eastern security issues, Israeli military history, and military innovation and adaptation can ill afford to neglect this book.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations

Part I: Strategic Adaptation
Introduction to Part I
Chapter 1: IDF "Routine Security" and the Evolution of Hezbollah (1985-92)
Chapter 2: Deterrence, Guerrilla Warfare, and the Establishment of the "Rules of the Game" (1993-99)
Chapter 3: A Change in the Strategic Equation: The IDF Withdrawal from Lebanon (2000)
Chapter 4: The Erosion of Deterrence, the 2006 War, and the Dahiya Doctrine (2000-17)
Conclusion to Part I

Part II: Operational Adaptation
Introduction to Part II
Chapter 5: The Origins of the RMA in Israel
Chapter 6: The RMA in Action: IDF Operations in Lebanon and Hezbollah's Adaptation in the 1990s
Chapter 7: The Rise of the IDF's Operational Theory Research Institute and Systemic Operational Design 
Chapter 8: The 2006 Lebanon War: Military Adaptation and Counteradaptation
Chapter 9: The Blame Game: A Reappraisal of the IDF's 2006 Operational Concept
Conclusion to Part II

Afterword: Back to the Future: IDF Force Planning and Hezbollah's Military Adaptation in Syria 
Selected Bibliography
About the Author


"An interesting and well-researched book. His compelling and accurate analysis explains different aspects of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah."—H-Diplo

"This book is significant because it describes, in great detail, both the greatest current military threat against Israel as well as long-term threat trends. . . . Israel’s Long War with Hezbollah provides valuable background to this ongoing conflict and a window into what one can expect in the inevitable next round of fighting."—Jewish Book Council

"Marcus’s own excellent analysis deserves the attention of any informed reader interested in Israel or modern military history. The long war isn’t over, and its underlying dynamic, ably documented by Raphael Marcus, remains unchanged."—MOSAIC

"English-language readers will be rewarded with a clear understanding of current IDF strategy, constraints and planning, particularly as it relates to Hezbollah."—Jewish Herald-Voice

"The book is a significant contribution to the study of this conflict and of Hezbollah. But it also serves as a case study on how militaries—both state and nonstate—can learn from battlefield mistakes and evolve to match threats. . . . This book is worth the attention of anyone interested in learning the intricacies of the civil-military dynamic and those who seek a deeper knowledge of the military history surrounding the Israel-Hezbollah conflict"—Parameters

"Marcus’s own excellent analysis . . . deserves the attention of any informed reader interested in Israel or modern military history. . . . By skillfully pulling together many disparate events over a period of decades and sketching the evolution of the conflict from its inception, Marcus provides a kindred service in this book."—Mosaic Magazine

"An impeccable, insightful, expertly written and timely study of one of the Middle East's most enduringly political, ideological, and military conflicts."—Midwest Book Review

"[Marcus] is a fine scholar. There doesn’t seem to be an Israeli senior officer whose wisdom he has not sought. His work will no doubt appeal to military analysts interested in understanding the conflict in question and, perhaps, fitting it into the way other armed forces around the world are going."—Martin van Creveld, Professor Emeritus, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"Marcus provides a fuller, more balanced picture than many other works on the same subject.....A timely intervention that bridges the gap between English and Hebrew sources and provides a historical prism through which to comprehend the contemporary tactical and strategic preferences of both the IDF and Hezbollah alike."—Fathom Journal

"What makes Marcus’s book stand out is his analysis of both Israel’s and Hezbollah’s strategic and tactical developments, and how the two entities fed off of and inspired the other’s innovations. Rather than simply being another military history, Marcus’s book tracks the development of strategy and tactics, and strikes a rare balance between research rigour, detail, and accessible readability."—The Times of Israel

"An intriguing and important book for all those who wish to understand the IDF and the military nature of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah."—H-Net Reviews

"An intriguing and important book for all those who wish to understand the IDF and the military nature of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah."—Reading Religion

"Raphael Marcus has written what will be the new standard English-language source for understanding the origins and the continued evolution of the decadeslong conflict between Hizbullah and Israel. Marcus does a masterful job of describing the strategic, operational, and tactical adaptations, or lack thereof, of these two adversaries over time. He clearly meets his stated purpose of examining the “processes of learning and adaptation on each side” (p. 15) within the context of this binary competition."—Middle East Journal

"This is a timely book that thoroughly investigates how the IDF learned and adapted based on its extensive operational and tactical experience. Israel's Long War with Hezbollah fills a hole in the field by developing an evidence-based approach to exploring how wartime innovation and adaptation occur in very practical terms. Marcus has produced an accessible and readable account of Israeli efforts that has application beyond that country’s context. This is an invaluable addition to the field and is essential to anyone interested in military culture, organizational learning, and military effectiveness."—Frank Hoffman, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University, Washington DC

"Marcus has produced a groundbreaking study of Israel's evolving military strategies toward Hezbollah in Lebanon and a veritable lessons learned for the next war should it come."—Aaron David Miller, Middle East Program Director, Woodrow WilsonInternational Center for Scholars, Washington DC, and former U.S. State Department Middle East adviser and negotiator

"This book is a must read, a precious source of knowledge for anyone interested in the conflict between Israel and Hizb’allah."—War In History


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Raphael D. Marcus is a nonresident fellow at the Insurgency Research Group in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, where he received his PhD. His research interests include Middle East security issues, terrorism, military affairs, and organizational learning. He is currently working as an intelligence and counterterrorism analyst at a law-enforcement agency.

320 pp., 6 x 9
1 map
ISBN: 978-1-62616-610-3
Oct 2018

320 pp., 6 x 9
1 map
ISBN: 978-1-62616-611-0
Oct 2018

320 pp.
1 map
ISBN: 978-1-62616-612-7
Oct 2018

Related Titles