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|Turning towards Mecca|
Hezbollah (Arabic for "Party of God") is a Shi'a militant resistance organization and a political party headquartered in Lebanon. Its foundation was triggered by the 1981 Israeli intervention in a Lebanese civil war in which approximately twelve to nineteen thousand Lebanese lost their lives. Its original stated mission was to put an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Lebanon. The leaders of Hezbollah were greatly influenced by the chief architect of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) of the Islamic Republic of Iran trained Hezbollah recruits. It is therefore sometimes considered a proxy of Iran.
According to its manifesto, its stated goals are:
- to put an end to colonialism by driving out Americans and the French from Lebanese soil
- to bring those to justice who have committed crimes against both Muslims and Christians
- formation of an Islamic government because only an Islamic government is capable of giving liberty and justice to all
It also is said by some to advocate the destruction of the state of Israel, which it believes is one of the main oppressors of Muslims. Hezbollah has small branches in many other countries.
Hezbollah has organized a range of social service programmes including hospitals, news services, and educational institutions which cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It also runs a so-called "Martyr's Institute" which provides basic living expenses to the families of fallen fighters.
Attacks against military and civilian targets
Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya or the "The Islamic Resistance" is the armed wing of Hezbollah. It organized the 1983 U.S. embassy bombing in Beirut which killed 200 U.S. Marines. Hezbollah is also accused by the Argentinian government of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, and the 1994 bombing of an Argentinian Jewish community center. However, these allegations were never been proved and the group's leadership denies any involvement in the attacks. The organization kidnapped two members of the Israeli Defense Forces in 2006, leading to a short war between Israel and Hezbollah on Lebanese soil. Furthermore, not entirely unlike Hamas, Hezbollah has from time to time fired home-made rockets on civilian (and occasionally) military targets in Israel, though this appears to have largely died down in recent years.
Popularity and public support
Hezbollah is very popular among Lebanon's Shi'a Muslims, and unpopular among its Sunni Muslims. In the Palestinian Territories it is widely regarded as an important resistance organization. A survey conducted in 2006 among the resident of Gaza Strip and West Bank found 79.6% view Hezbollah as very good and 16.7% as good. Only a small minority of people, only 2.4%, considered this organization "bad". However, opinion of Hezbollah fell in 2012 in light of their support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Many accuse Hezbollah of using anti-Israel rhetoric to disguise their real motives, which is to advance Iranian hegemony and Shi'a supremacy. Hezbollah also runs in elections as a regular party in Lebanon with moderate support, currently (2015) holding 12 out of 128 seats in the parliament and 2 out of 30 seats in the cabinet.
- Who are Hezbollah?
- In Search of Hezbollah
- Department of State list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
- Home Office Proscribed Terrorist Organisations. UK Home Office. (PDF) Archived on 16 July 2015 by the Wayback Machine.
- EGYPT: Cairo calls Hezbollah terrorist organization, Los Angeles Times
- "Recent EU Member State Action and Implication of the Designation"
- Hizbollah's manifesto English version
- The many hands and faces of Hezbollah
- 'The Best Guerrilla Force in the World'
- from Wayback Machine: Lebanese Public Opinion
- Palestinians Hold Hezbollah in High Regard
- Sunni Cleric Rises To Challenge Hezbollah In Lebanon