• Lebanon
  • August 18, 2006
  • 91 minutes read

Hezbollah, twenty years of resistance and victory

While the Israeli occupation persists in invading Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance (IR) proved that not only they can stand and face the Israeli occupation troops, but also make the Israelis suffer the same experience they repeatedly made the Arabs and Muslims suffer in Lebanon and Palestine nowadays, or in Egypt, Jordon and Syria in the past. This experience is to be horribly terrified of bombs or Katiousha missiles lest it may demolish your house.

 This war- which lasted for eight days today- proved that Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance- though their limited capabilities- can resist. It caused the Israeli army gross casualties, such as the destruction of their battleship and airship, and dozens of rocket missiles on Haifa, Tabaria and other Israeli cities.

Hezbollah actually exists in an active way in the Lebanese political arena since 20 years, the military resistance to the Israeli existence in Lebanon helped Hezbollah obtain local and regional legitimacy, especially after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Hezbollah crowned its political and military actions by forcing Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon in May- last year.

Who are Hezbollah? What about the origin, structure, internal institutions, relation with Syria and Iran, and the future after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon?

We will tackle the following topics in the report:

* The origin and development of Hezbollah

* The reasons of success in resistance


The origin


The existence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, in 1982, was preceded by an intellectual and ideological environment, which Sheikh Hussein Fadlollah had an important role in its existence, through his scholarly activity in the south. Due to the political and ideological correlation between both sides, the Islamic Revolution in Iran- led by Ayatollah al-Khomeini in 1979- helped the emergence of Hezbollah. 

Hezbollah party issued a statement in 16/2/1985, in which it said “the party is adherent to the instructions set by a wise and just leadership represented in the jurist Ayatollah al- Mosawi al- Khomeini, the leader of the Muslims’ revolution and renaissance.”

The majority of the party is Shiite Lebanese who are ideologically affiliated to Iran, because they consider Ayatollah Ali Khamen’i one of the supreme religious authorities, Sheikh Hassan Nasrollah is the secretary general of Hezbollah and the legitimate deputy of Ayatollah Ali Khamen’i in Lebanon. This ideological and juristic correlation is quite clear in the direct and rapid support of the Islamic Republic to the emerging party.

The party was instituted in an atmosphere of military resistance of the Israeli occupation in Lebanon in 1982, so the party’s political ideology basis is resisting occupation. The first military operation to make Hezbollah famous in the Arab world was in October 1983, when the party exploded the American and French premises killing 300 American and French soldiers.


The party’s orientations


Hassan Nasrollah says that the party cares for the destination and future of Lebanon, participates with the rest of political trends to establish free and just society in Lebanon and is interested in all the Arab and Islamic issues, especially the Palestinian.


The structure


Though having secret activities, the party declared some of its organizational bodies which regulate its work, for example:

         Leadership authority

         Political council

         Planning council

         Parliament bloc

         Executive groups

         Advisory institutions

The decisions are made by the majority of votes within these institutions. The consultative council is the supreme organizational authority, because it is made up of 12 members responsible for following up economical and social fields.


Secretaries of the party


Muhammad Hussein Fadlollah is the real founder of Hezbollah, because he had Da’wa (call) activity among the Shiite in the south, which encouraged the people to sympathize with the party, which was founded in 1982 and officially declared in 1985.


The first secretary general of the party was Sheikh Sobhi Attofaili, who assumed the position from 1989 till 1991, but he was compelled to resign, because the party refused his declaration of a unilateral civil disobedience of the Lebanese government, he was followed by Sheikh `Abbas al-Mosawi, who stayed in this position only for nine months, because of being assassinated by Israel in 1992, then the party has been led by Sheikh Hassan Nasrollah.


Service institutions


Hezbollah presented services for the people, especially in southern Lebanon, which had a great role in the party’s popularity; the party was absorbed in establishing new schools and beneficiary societies which cared for the injured and martyrs, such as:

“Building Jihad” foundation was instituted in1988, included many engineers, technicians and workers. It specialized in digging wells and preparing educational courses in agriculture and veterinary.

The Islamic Health authority had 47 branches in all the country and the south, in addition to Beirut.

The non- interest loan society was founded in1982 to provide the needy with loans without interests.

Islamic beneficiary support society was founded in 1987, to help achieve self- sufficiency for families, and caring the orphans, disabled, and widows.

Martyr association caring and providing education to the families of the martyrs.

         Islamic institution for education was founded in 1993 to build new schools in different places in Lebanon. The priority to join these schools was for the martyrs’ offspring.

         Authority for supporting the Islamic resistance to collect donations for the resistance, hold symposiums, and shows to spread the awareness about the importance of resistance.


The party has important sports, cultural, and informational institutions, such as Imam Khomeini center, Al’hd magazine, and Al-Manar TV channel, which managed to attract a wide range of the audience, it also carried out a live broadcast for Hezbollah’s operations against Israel.


Thought and programs


Hezbollah differs between thought and political platform; they say that the political idea doesn’t expire due to the incompatible political reality, such as the idea of establishing an Islamic state, Hassan Nasrollah said “our vision about the Islamic state is different from that of Taliban in Afghanistan; the idea of the Islamic state is present at the political thought level, as for the platform, the Lebanese characteristics don’t support this idea. The hopeful Islamic state should come out of public support, now we can’t establish it nowadays, because it needs security.”


Hezbollah and Syria


Hezbollah has a distinguished relation with Syria since the middle of the 70s, when Syria declared that it will enter and exist in Lebanon to settle the civil war. Syria managed to disarm the fighting factions and dismantled the militias, but did not disarm Hezbollah, because the party didn’t participate in the civil war, but was absorbed in the security belt set by Israel in south Lebanon. This distinguished relation was escalated by Syria using the party as a paper to exert pressure with on Israel concerning political gains in any negotiations about the occupied Golan Heights. Hezbollah don’t deny the Syrian aids to it.

Hezbollah considers the Syrian existence is important for both Syria and Lebanon, to avoid the continuous threats and to maintain the political balance between the Lebanese factions, that’s why the party organized a big demo, included more than 100 thousands, as a reply to all who oppose the Syrian existence in Lebanon.


Hezbollah and Iran


We find that both policy and religion are intermingled in the relation between Hezbollah and Iran; the Shiite Lebanese have deep spiritual relations with the religious authorities in Iran, moreover they consider the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamen’i, the supreme religious authority for them. Hassan Nasrollah is called the legitimate deputy of Ayatollah Ali Khamen’i.

Though all political and financial support the party receives from Iran, it can’t be considered an Iranian party inside Lebanon; Hassan Nasrollah says “the secretary general of the party is Lebanese, all the cadres are Lebanese, implements its activities in Lebanon, and defends and presents martyrs for the sake of liberating Lebanon“. All these criteria denote that it’s Lebanese not Iranian.


The military operations


Hezbollah is different from other Lebanese parties, because of its military operations, which helped him actually get out of theorization to practice and gave it popularity and legitimacy in Lebanon. These military actions are clear factors which stir up unrest among the Israelis, and a practical answer to some of the Arab intellectuals who call for peaceful naturalization with Israel.


One of its operations against Israel


The military operations of Hezbollah against Israel caused great damage ranges between 22 and 23 annual killings, besides a big number of injured and prisoners. The party’s sources indicate that the average of military operations done by Hezbollah from 1989 till 1991 mounted 292, and from 1992 till 1994 mounted 465 and from 1995 till 1997 mounted 936, the Islamic resistance- the military wing of Hezbollah- carried out 736 operations.

As for the Israeli sources, they indicate that Israel lost 36 soldier in 1988 and 64 were injured, and two kidnapped. By and large, Israel lost 1200 person during 18 years.

Israel’s withdrawal was due to these operations, the first big pullout was in 1985, and then was followed by several pullbacks, at top of them was that from “Juzain”, a Lebanese territory. The operations created a public current calling for pullout from “the Lebanese quagmire”, the most prominent movement was “The Four Mothers.”

Hezbollah used the guerrillas and martyrdom operations, which usually used explosives, ambushes, guns and Katiousha missiles, the famous weapon used by the party against Israel.

The military resistance of Hezbollah is marked by accuracy in determining the targets, sudden action and secure pullback after the operations, in addition to a well- trained investigation body. The most famous operation of the party was “Anssariah” battle in 1997, when they induced a helicopter with 16 Israeli worriers onboard and destroyed them all.

Hezbollah and politics

Hezbollah has a great role in policy since the agreement of Atta’ef in 1990, which the party approved except for some terms. The party stood siding with the opposition, in its first parliamentary elections in 1992, it wan 12 seats, which was the biggest number a bloc can obtain individually. It also participated in 1996 elections. In the current parliament, it has 8 serious members, who propose new platforms and deep researches to be discussed. The party seeks to form a political bloc to exert pressure on the others. It participated in syndicates’ elections, especially doctors and engineers’ syndicates, as well as students and workers unions.

Through its political practice, the party tried to apply Islamic principles through persuasion and dialogue, rejecting violence as a means to be empowered. It calls for intercultural communication and refuses clash of civilizations theory, that’s why it’s a good role in holding dialogues between it and the Christian religious figures, tries to coordinate with the national and leftist trends, and doesn’t object to participate in the cabinet.


Hezbollah after withdrawal


Many questions arose about the future of Hezbollah after the Israeli pullout from the south; will it dismantle the military wing? The party always replies that it won’t give up weapon or military resistance, except in one case, i.e. the liberation of all Lebanon- denoting to Sheb’a farmlands, which are still under the Israeli occupation- and the release of all the Arab prisoners, including Sheikh Abdul- Kareem ’Ebeid and Sheikh al-Derani, from the Israeli prisons.

The political and social work of the party is superior to the military activity, so it can suffice with policy- if it decides. It seems that it will go on military actions till Syria reaches an agreement with Israel.


Resistance success reasons


1-Independence and secrecy:


Unlike the traditional resistance, the IR since its emergence until now has not participated in operations against the occupation with any other party. It does not want the ideological harmony, lest it might be penetrated by the enemy, when political and ideological trends vary, it will be difficult to be controlled or ruled, as what happened with the past resistance advocates, (especially the Palestinian), which suffered much assassinations because of these security penetrations.


2- The expansion of resistance base:


Because of tending to carry out its operations without any coordination with other military platoons, the IR has been accused of monopolizing the resistance for political reasons, and the negligence of the other sides, such as steadfastness and social development which complete the military side in the resistance.

The IR managed to refute these accusations and opened the door for participation of the non- Muslim forces for facing the occupation, although it did not abandon its special systematic, security and military principles.

In 3 November1997, Hassan Nasrollah declared that the resistance will form “the Lebanon brigades for resisting the Israeli occupation” as a comprehensive party for who wants to take part in the operations against Israel in the south of Lebanon. Hassan Nasrollah confirmed that “the formation will stay far away the IR group which will be ready to support the brigades to carry out the security and military operations within the occupied Lebanon territories.

Neither disproving the accusation of resistance monopoly nor preserving the military and security systematical framework, the reason of forming these brigades without restricting any Islamic idea; but the real motive was to broaden the participation for facing the enemy, especially within the Lebanon society which witnesses political, doctrinal and sectarian variation. These brigades implemented operations against the occupation. The privacy of the IR hindered the wish of some non- Muslim Lebanese factions and political trends to fight under the umbrella of the IR. The aims and priorities of the IR’s leaders’ initiative, which proved that fighting is not exclusive on one group, focused on:

* To dedicate the struggle case against the enemy and to liberate the land.

* To face the normalization.

* To abort the enemy attempts to have a legitimate entity in the region.

* To create a great Islamic, national and international idea including all powers, leaders, social classes, religious thoughts and intellectual, cultural and political beliefs.


3- Using the new developed means of fighting:


The IR used the guerrilla warfare, i.e. the new groups which launch sudden attacks against the enemy patrols and fortifications; or implant mines and ambushes on its way.

The resistance succeeded in presenting different and distinguished experiment concerning the political, informational and security levels, the important features are:

a- The variation of tactics and operations:

The IR did not depend on one tactic in the confrontation; waiting the enemy on roads, amid of forests or smashing its positions in the far villages, in addition to launching wide operations against more than one location of enemy. It managed to dominate many places for long hours, destroy it and occasionally capture the included persons.


b- Developing the high intelligences abilities:


The IR succeeded in developing high standard intelligence abilities helped it observe the move of the enemy soldiers and agents, besides the severe direct losses through ambushes or explosions inside and outside the occupied strip till the Israeli borders. As a result, the suspicions and questions were raised within the security and military Israeli society to investigate the degree of Hezbollah penetration to these places and agents, especially after the failure of the last trial of Israeli airdrop in “Anssariah territory beside the beach in the south Lebanon in (4/9/1997), in which all elite soldiers were killed; they were about15 Israeli, and the resistance retained some their remains which were exchanged by the corpses of 40 martyrs including 30 affiliated to the IR; and this was the first time for Israel to face this kind of failure in similar operations.


c- Psychological warfare and military media:


IR depended on the modern material and psychological ways in the influence operations on the civil public opinion and military among the soldiers. The resistance managed to form a secret body, named (military media), its members submit to a special military, ideological and technical course include the direct shooting of most operations against the occupation soldiers and agents, and filming the operation of breaking into the sites and fixing its banners above the fortifications. The resistance resorted to broadcast media traps to the enemy, for example it published a videotape about the steps of breaking into “B’ir kelab” site on 27/2/198-98; but the leader of Israeli liaison detachment – Irez Gorstein claimed that the resistance did not enter the site, then it published another one included the details of storming into the site,  the entry of soldiers and the raising of the banners above its fortifications; the informational trick was repeated with the “al Dabsha” site in 12/5/1998, and “Hadatha” in 2/7/1998. On another level and in varied occasions, the resistance arranged the visits of media persons, municipal chiefs and governors to its site, as it used the internet to spread the news of its operations and different messages all over the world. Al Manar TV (one of resistance mass media, in addition to al Nour radio) specified a page on the web itself concerned with the IR news, and including texts about the resistance and its operation in Arabic and English. These new techniques in filming are the first in Lebanon.


4- Facing the enemy and appeasing the country:


The resistance avoided the clashes and lateral battles with the institutions, the military and political movements in Lebanon, which existed before the Israeli overrun in 1982 and later.  Hezbollah (the political wing of resistance) also avoided facing the Lebanese Authority, adopting the violence strategy against the enemy, and calming on the internal front. As a result, it did not involve in clash against the Lebanese army in 13 September 1993, after the Oslo agreement. The army fired Hezbollah peaceful demonstration, which went out to condemn the agreement, during which eight were killed, and tens wounded among the demonstrators. Several years later, the relation between them was marked by cooperation and coordination in an unprecedented form. This led to disclosure the agents and security nets connected with the enemy, and trail who was arrested before the Lebanon judiciary. The uncovering of these cells raised extreme criticism inside Israel that made the Knesset member Gadaoon Ezra- former official in al Shabak body- says in an interview with occupation army radio “it is incredible to believe in the discovery of the Israeli net in this size, this showed the failure of implementation and execution”. Hassan Nasrollah, Hezbollah secretary general expressed this level of cooperation during the exchange operation of the remains of martyrs with that of the Israeli soldiers, saying “Lebanon and all world should take into consideration that the army officers and soldiers carry the biers of the resistant and chant the death anthem, and carry out the military salute. Moreover the martyrs’ blood in the Lebanese army mixed with that of resistance’s; this matter not only angers Israel and America, but disturb and hurt them as well. At that time, Hassan Nasrollah met the representative of the army leader, Emil LaHood presiding over a military delegation to present the condolence concerning the coming martyrs and congratulations regarding the returning prisoners.

Despite the clash with the other movements (like Amal movement principally), it still exceptional and did not change the resistance choice to redirect its aims against the enemy soldiers and agents. Who looks at the situation of anarchy and difference among the institutions in Palestinian and Lebanese parties before and after the Israeli overrun in 1982, realize how this strategy choice formed a principal factor in keeping the resistance and its progression, in addition to the national gathering around it.


5- Liquidating the agents:


The resistance exerted intensive efforts to captures the militias working for Israel in addition to destroying its morale. Since 1998, we witness certain successful and specific operations aiming at catching the leaders of these militias and many security officials. This shows the speed collapse of the militias after the withdrawal of the occupation army from the occupied territory. In the past- as the newspapers stated- there were disputes among the leaders of security and military bodies inside the militia of the agents because of and mutual accusation between them regarding the default which led to the success of the IR’s operations.

The occupation forces besieged the al- Naqora harbor to stop the escape of the agents, in addition to the direct military strikes against them. The resistance resorted to the encouragement ways through instigating them to escape, and through what was called “opening the door of repentance” for who want to present him self to the Lebanese authorities or the resistance. It also proposed a plan concerning this respect in the Lebanese parliament. These intensive efforts, in 1998, resulted in the withdrawal of the agents from Gazeen in 1999.


6- Using the means of mobilization:


After the overrun of 1982, the stage of comprehensive occupation, which included most of Lebanese lands in addition to Beirut, the resistance depended on two complete methods: the comprehensive mobilization and military operations similar to the above- stated guerrilla warfare.

After the partial withdrawal in 1986 to the border strip parallel to the borders with the Zionist entity, the resistance confined to the military operations excluding the mass crowd, but it moved speedily to wide  media mobilization towards the Lebanese public opinion with its different ideas through its TV channel al Manar, al Nour radio and weekly al `Ahd  newspaper to spread the operations news and top officials speeches as well as the political, cultural and religious guidance and the occupation’s history, crimes and massacres.

The mobilization and gathering means, which were used in the first stage of facing the occupation, i.e. between 1982 and 1986, were in the occupied territories, and had a religious characteristics in an environment in which religion was the main element in forming its identity and history.

The resistance benefited from the religious mobilization atmosphere, which rejects the occupation and calls for facing the occupation. Most of scholars in mosques and some times in the villages promoted these calls even before the emergence of the IR or the declaration of its existence and identity.

In May, 1983, the first mass protest was in one of the villages of the occupied South (Jibsheet) because of the arrest of Raghib Harb, and then it included the neighboring villages, which compelled the occupation authorities to set him free, but was assassinated several months later, so the demonstrations covered all Lebanon, the village Imams directed the people for demos and blocking the villages entries with burning tires and stones, in addition to facing the trials of breaking into the villages. After every wave of protest, the extended meeting of scholars’ authority was held to issue a statement concerning the developments which determine the coming steps. In al Jum’a (Friday) speeches, the Sheikhs called for boycotting the Israeli goods, which prevailed the markets, in addition to confronting all who handle with the enemy and facing the enemy projects of villages union. These situations were repeated during the agreement of 17 may 1984 with Israel.

Under the atmosphere of religious mobilization which recalled the history of the Islamic martyrs, Imam al Hussein, standing against injustice and the supreme martyr position, until the Jihad history in the mountain of `Amel (south Lebanon) against the French. In1983, in (`Ashuraa’) at al Nabtiya town in the south Lebanon, the gatherings dared to attack Israeli caravan, using stones and burned some of the cars, which led to siege of the town and arresting its youth. The mosques were the places of gathering and meeting as well as the forts to which people resort when Israeli forces invaded the territories and regions.


Israel Army Photo



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