EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Radical sub-state actors are able to exercise full control of the territories they govern yet make themselves almost invisible when they choose to do so. As recent events in Gaza showed, this ability serves them not only on the military front but also in the arenas of diplomacy and public influence.
When Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commanders look through their binoculars at built-up areas in Lebanon or Gaza, they do not, for the most part, see the enemy.
Yet the enemy is very much there, as the commanders are well aware. Embedded deeply in civilian neighborhoods, hardline Islamist armed entities, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, are preparing for combat. They are organizing their personnel into formations, pointing projectiles at Israeli cities, building underground tunnels and bunkers, and gaining significant expertise in urban asymmetric warfare.
In the Middle East of today, the era of the classic state actor has been in decline for some time, and the power of the non-state actor (or the sub-state actor, depending on how one looks at it) is on the rise.