Hezbollah (pronounced /ˌhɛzbəˈlɑː/; Arabic: حزب الله Ḥizbu 'llāh, literally "Party of Allah" or "Party of God")—also transliterated Hizbullah, Hizballah, etc.—is a Shi'a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Hezbollah's paramilitary wing is the Jihad Council, and its political wing is Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc party in the Lebanese parliament. Since the death of Abbas al-Musawi in 1992, the group has been headed by Hassan Nasrallah, its Secretary-General. The group, along with its military wing is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Canada, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council,, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and the European Union.
Hezbollah was founded in the early 1980s as part of an Iranian effort to aggregate a variety of militant Lebanese Shia groups into a unified organization. Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran in the ongoing Iran–Israel proxy conflict. Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran primarily to harass Israel. Its leaders were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards that arrived from Iran with permission from the Syrian government, which was in occupation of Lebanon at the time. Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its objectives as the expulsion of "the Americans, the French and their allies definitely from Lebanon, putting an end to any colonialist entity on our land", submission of the Phalangists to "just power" and bringing them to justice "for the crimes they have perpetrated against Muslims and Christians", and permitting "all the sons of our people" to choose the form of government they want, while calling on them to "pick the option of Islamic government".
Hezbollah waged a guerilla campaign in South Lebanon and as a result, Israel withdrew from Lebanon on 24 May 2000, and the SLA collapsed and surrendered. Hezbollah organised volunteers who fought on the Bosnian side during the Bosnian War. Hezbollah's military strength has grown so significantly that its paramilitary wing is considered more powerful than the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah has been described as a "state within a state", and has grown into an organization with seats in the Lebanese government, a radio and a satellite TV station, social services and large-scale military deployment of fighters beyond Lebanon's borders. Hezbollah is part of the March 8 Alliance within Lebanon, in opposition to the March 14 Alliance. Hezbollah maintains strong support among Lebanon's Shi'a population, while Sunnis have disagreed with the group's agenda. Hezbollah also finds support from within some Christian areas of Lebanon that are Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah receives military training, weapons, and financial support from Iran, and political support from Syria. Hezbollah and Israel fought each other in the 2006 Lebanon War.
After the 2006–08 Lebanese protests and clashes, a national unity government was formed in 2008, with Hezbollah and its opposition allies obtaining eleven of thirty cabinets seats, enough to give them veto power. In August 2008, Lebanon's new Cabinet unanimously approved a draft policy statement which recognized Hezbollah's existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to "liberate or recover occupied lands" (such as the Shebaa Farms). Since 2012, Hezbollah has helped the Syrian government during the Syrian civil war in its fight against the Syrian opposition, which Hezbollah has described as a Zionist plot and a "Wahhabi-Zionist conspiracy" to destroy its alliance with Assad against Israel. It has deployed its militia in both Syria and Iraq to fight or train local forces to fight against ISIL. Once seen as a resistance movement throughout much of the Arab world, this image upon which the group's legitimacy rested has been severely damaged due to the sectarian nature of the Syrian Civil War in which it has become embroiled.
|National affiliation||March 8 Alliance|
|International affiliation||Axis of Resistance|
|Parliament of Lebanon|
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|Cabinet of Lebanon|
2 / 30
Flag of Hezbollah
|Participant in the Lebanese Civil War, Israeli–Lebanese conflict, South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000), 2006 Lebanon War, 2008 Lebanon Conflict, Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)
Primary target in War on Terror
|Active||1985 – present|
|Size||20,000 to 50,000|
Non state allies:
Suprastate organizations opponents:
Non state opponents:
|Battles and war(s)|
After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israel occupied a strip of south Lebanon, which was controlled by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a militia supported by Israel. Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran primarily to harass the Israeli occupation. Its leaders were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards that arrived from Iran with permission from the Syrian government, which was in occupation of Lebanon at the time.
Scholars differ as to when Hezbollah came to be a distinct entity. Various sources list the official formation of the group as early as 1982 whereas Diaz and Newman maintain that Hezbollah remained an amalgamation of various violent Shi'a extremists until as late as 1985. Another version states that it was formed by supporters of Sheikh Ragheb Harb, a leader of the southern Shia resistance killed by Israel in 1984. Regardless of when the name came into official use, a number of Shi'a groups were slowly assimilated into the organization, such as Islamic Jihad, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization. These designations are considered to be synonymous with Hezbollah by the US, Israel and Canada.
Hezbollah emerged in South Lebanon during a consolidation of Shia militias as a rival to the older Amal Movement. Hezbollah played a significant role in the Lebanese civil war, opposing American forces in 1982–83 and opposing Amal and Syria during the 1985–88 War of the Camps. However, Hezbollah's early primary focus was ending Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon following Israel's 1982 invasion and siege of Beirut. Amal, the main Lebanese Shia political group, initiated guerrilla warfare. In 2006, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak stated, "When we entered Lebanon … there was no Hezbollah. We were accepted with perfumed rice and flowers by the Shia in the south. It was our presence there that created Hezbollah".
Hezbollah waged an asymmetric war using suicide attacks against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli targets outside of Lebanon. Hezbollah is reputed to have been among the first Islamic resistance groups in the Middle East to use the tactics of suicide bombing, assassination, and capturing foreign soldiers, as well as murders and hijackings. Hezbollah also employed more conventional military tactics and weaponry, notably Katyusha rockets and other missiles. At the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, despite the Taif Agreement asking for the "disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," Syria, which controlled Lebanon at that time, allowed Hezbollah to maintain their arsenal and control Shia areas along the border with Israel.
In the 1990s, Hezbollah transformed from a revolutionary group into a political one, in a process which is described as the Lebanonisation of Hezbollah. Unlike its uncompromising revolutionary stance in the 1980s, Hezbollah conveyed a lenient stance towards the Lebanese state.
In 1992 Hezbollah decided to participate in elections, and Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, endorsed it. Former Hezbollah secretary general, Subhi al-Tufayli, contested this decision, which led to a schism in Hezbollah. Hezbollah won all twelve seats which were on its electoral list. At the end of that year, Hezbollah began to engage in dialog with Lebanese Christians. Hezbollah regards cultural, political, and religious freedoms in Lebanon as sanctified, although it does not extend these values to groups who have relations with Israel.
In 1997 Hezbollah formed the multi-confessional Lebanese Brigades to Fighting the Israeli Occupation in an attempt to revive national and secular resistance against Israel, thereby marking the "Lebanonisation" of resistance.
Whether the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) was a nom de guerre used by Hezbollah or a separate organization, is disputed. According to certain sources, IJO was identified as merely a "telephone organization", and whose name was "used by those involved to disguise their true identity." Hezbollah reportedly also used another name, "Islamic Resistance" (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya), for attacks against Israel.
A 2003 American court decision found IJO was the name used by Hezbollah for its attacks in Lebanon, parts of the Middle East and Europe. The US, Israel and Canada consider the names "Islamic Jihad Organization", "Organization of the Oppressed on Earth" and the "Revolutionary Justice Organization" to be synonymous with Hezbollah.
Back in the 1980s, the ideology of Hezbollah was described as radical. It is presented in the 1985 manifesto. The first objective was fighting against American and Israeli imperialism, freedom of the occupied Southern Lebanon and all other occupied territories. The second objective was to gather all Muslims in the concept of ummah; then Lebanon would continue the 1979 Revolution of Iran. It also declared it would protect all Lebanese communities except the ones which collaborated with Israel, and supported all national movements—Muslim or non-Muslim—throughout the world. The Ideology has been changed, and today Hezbollah is a left-wing political entity focused on social injustice.
The ideology of Hezbollah has been summarized as Shi'i radicalism; Hezbollah follows the Islamic Shi'a theology developed by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Hezbollah was largely formed with the aid of the Ayatollah Khomeini's followers in the early 1980s in order to spread Islamic revolution and follows a distinct version of Islamic Shi'a ideology (Valiyat al-faqih or Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists) developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the "Islamic Revolution" in Iran. Although Hezbollah originally aimed to transform Lebanon into a formal Faqihi Islamic republic, this goal has been abandoned in favor of a more inclusive approach.
On 16 February 1985, Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin issued Hezbollah's manifesto. Translated excerpts from Hezbollah's original 1985 manifesto read:
We are the sons of the umma (Muslim community) ...
... We are an ummah linked to the Muslims of the whole world by the solid doctrinal and religious connection of Islam, whose message God wanted to be fulfilled by the Seal of the Prophets, i.e., Prophet Muhammad. ... As for our culture, it is based on the Holy Quran, the Sunna and the legal rulings of the faqih who is our source of imitation ...
From the inception of Hezbollah to the present, the elimination of the State of Israel has been one of Hezbollah's primary goals. Some translations of Hezbollah's 1985 Arabic-language manifesto state that "our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated". According to Hezbollah's Deputy-General, Naim Qassem, the struggle against Israel is a core belief of Hezbollah and the central rationale of Hezbollah's existence.
Hezbollah says that its continued hostilities against Israel are justified as reciprocal to Israeli operations against Lebanon and as retaliation for what they claim is Israel's occupation of Lebanese territory. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, and their withdrawal was verified by the United Nations as being in accordance with resolution 425 of 19 March 1978, however Lebanon considers the Shebaa farms—a 26-km² (10-mi²) piece of land captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war and considered by the UN to be Syrian territory occupied by Israel—to be Lebanese territory. Finally, Hezbollah consider Israel to be an illegitimate state. For these reasons, they justify their actions as acts of defensive jihad.
Hezbollah officials have said, on rare occasions, that it is only "anti-Zionist" and not anti-Semitic. However, according to scholars, "these words do not hold up upon closer examination". Among other actions, Hezbollah actively engages in Holocaust denial and spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Various anti-Semitic statements have been attributed to Hezbollah officials. Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese political analyst, argues that although Zionism has influenced Hezbollah's anti-Judaism, "it is not contingent upon it "because Hezbollah's hatred of Jews is more religiously motivated than politically motivated. Robert S. Wistrich, a historian specializing in the study of anti-Semitism, described Hezbollah's ideology concerning Jews:
The anti-Semitism of Hezbollah leaders and spokesmen combines the image of seemingly invincible Jewish power ... and cunning with the contempt normally reserved for weak and cowardly enemies. Like the Hamas propaganda for holy war, that of Hezbollah has relied on the endless vilification of Jews as 'enemies of mankind,' 'conspiratorial, obstinate, and conceited' adversaries full of 'satanic plans' to enslave the Arabs. It fuses traditional Islamic anti-Judaism with Western conspiracy myths, Third Worldist anti-Zionism, and Iranian Shiite contempt for Jews as 'ritually impure' and corrupt infidels. Sheikh Fadlallah typically insists ... that Jews wish to undermine or obliterate Islam and Arab cultural identity in order to advance their economic and political domination.
Conflicting reports say Al-Manar, the Hezbollah-owned and operated television station, accused either Israel or Jews of deliberately spreading HIV and other diseases to Arabs throughout the Middle East. Al-Manar was criticized in the West for airing "anti-Semitic propaganda" in the form of a television drama depicting a Jewish world domination conspiracy theory. The group has been accused by American analysts of engaging in Holocaust denial. In addition, during its 2006 war, it apologized only for killing Israel's Arabs (i.e., non-Jews).
In November 2009, Hezbollah pressured a private English-language school to drop reading excerpts from The Diary of Anne Frank, a book of the writings from the diary kept by the Jewish child Anne Frank while she was in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. This was after Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel complained, asking how long Lebanon would "remain an open arena for the Zionist invasion of education?"
At the beginning many Hezbollah leaders have maintained that the movement was "not an organization, for its members carry no cards and bear no specific responsibilities," and that the movement does not have "a clearly defined organizational structure." Nowadays, as Hezbollah scholar Magnus Ranstorp reports, Hezbollah does indeed have a formal governing structure, and in keeping with the principle of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (velayat-e faqih), it "concentrate[s] ... all authority and powers" in its religious leaders, whose decisions then "flow from the ulama down the entire community."
The supreme decision-making bodies of the Hezbollah were divided between the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Assembly) which was headed by 12 senior clerical members with responsibility for tactical decisions and supervision of overall Hizballah activity throughout Lebanon, and the Majlis al-Shura al-Karar (the Deciding Assembly), headed by Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah and composed of eleven other clerics with responsibility for all strategic matters. Within the Majlis al-Shura, there existed seven specialized committees dealing with ideological, financial, military and political, judicial, informational and social affairs. In turn, the Majlis al-Shura and these seven committees were replicated in each of Hizballah's three main operational areas (the Beqaa, Beirut, and the South).
Since the Supreme Leader of Iran is the ultimate clerical authority, Hezbollah's leaders have appealed to him "for guidance and directives in cases when Hezbollah's collective leadership [was] too divided over issues and fail[ed] to reach a consensus." After the death of Iran's first Supreme Leader, Khomeini, Hezbollah's governing bodies developed a more "independent role" and appealed to Iran less often. Since the Second Lebanon War, however, Iran has restructured Hezbollah to limit the power of Hassan Nasrallah, and invested billions of dollars "rehabilitating" Hezbollah.
Structurally, Hezbollah does not distinguish between its political/social activities within Lebanon and its military/jihad activities against Israel. "Hezbollah has a single leadership," according to Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's second in command. "All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership ... The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."
In 2010, Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said, "Iran takes pride in Lebanon's Islamic resistance movement for its steadfast Islamic stance. Hezbollah nurtures the original ideas of Islamic Jihad." He also instead charged the West with having accused Iran with support of terrorism and said, "The real terrorists are those who provide the Zionist regime with military equipment to bomb the people."
Money comes from Lebanese business groups, private persons, businessmen, the Lebanese diaspora involved in African diamond exploration, other Islamic groups and countries, and the taxes paid by the Shia Lebanese. Hezbollah says that the main source of its income comes from its own investment portfolios and donations by Muslims, however, Western sources maintain that Hezbollah actually receives most of its financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria. Iran is said to have given $400 million between 1983 and 1989 through donation. The situation has been changed due to economic problems, but Iran still funds humanitarian actions carried on by Hezbollah. According to reports released in February 2010, Hezbollah received $400 million from Iran. The US estimates that Iran has been giving Hezbollah about US$60–100 million per year in financial assistance. Other estimates are as high as $200 million annually. In 2011 Iran earmarked $7 million to Hezbollah's activities in the region. Hezbollah has relied also on funding from the Shi'ite Lebanese Diaspora in West Africa, the United States and, most importantly, the Triple Frontier, or tri-border area, along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. U.S. law enforcement officials have identified an illegal multimillion-dollar cigarette-smuggling fund raising operation and a drug smuggling operation. However, Nasrallah has repeatedly denied any links between the South American drug trade and Hezbollah, calling such accusations "propaganda" and attempts "to damage the image of Hezbollah".
Members of the Venezuelan government have been accused of providing financial aid to Hezbollah by the United States Department of the Treasury. According to the testimony of a former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega, Hugo Chávez's government gave "indispensable support" to Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. In an article by the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, Noriega explained how two witnesses alleged that Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Venezuelan diplomat in Syria, was an operative of Hezbollah who used Venezuelan entities to launder money for Hezbollah with President Nicolás Maduro's personal approval.
Hezbollah organizes an extensive social development program and runs hospitals, news services, educational facilities, and encouragement of Nikah mut'ah. One of its established institutions, Jihad Al Binna's Reconstruction Campaign, is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructure development projects in Lebanon. Hezbollah has set up a Martyr's Institute (Al-Shahid Social Association), which guarantees to provide living and education expenses "for the families of fighters who die" in battle. An IRIN news report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted:
Hezbollah not only has armed and political wings – it also boasts an extensive social development program. Hezbollah currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country's private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members.
According to CNN, "Hezbollah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools." In July 2006, during the war with Israel, when there was no running water in Beirut, Hezbollah was arranging supplies around the city. Lebanese Shiites "see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia." Hezbollah also rewards its guerilla members who have been wounded in battle by taking them to Hezbollah-run amusement parks.
Hezbollah along with Amal is one of two major political parties in Lebanon that represent Shiite Muslims. Unlike Amal, whose support is predominantly in the south of the country, Hezbollah maintains broad-based support in all three areas of Lebanon with a majority Shia Muslim population: in the south, in Beirut and its surrounding area, and in the northern Beqaa valley and Hirmil region. It holds 14 of the 128 seats in the Parliament of Lebanon and is a member of the Resistance and Development Bloc. According to Daniel L. Byman, it's "the most powerful single political movement in Lebanon." Hezbollah, along with the Amal Movement, represents most of Lebanese Shi'a. However, unlike Amal, Hezbollah has not disarmed. Hezbollah participates in the Parliament of Lebanon.
Hezbollah has been one of the main parties of the March 8 Alliance since March 2005. Although Hezbollah had joined the new government in 2005, it remained staunchly opposed to the March 14 Alliance. On 1 December 2006, these groups began a series of political protests and sit-ins in opposition to the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
On 7 May 2008, Lebanon's 17-month-long political crisis spiraled out of control. The fighting was sparked by a government move to shut down Hezbollah's telecommunication network and remove Beirut Airport's security chief over alleged ties to Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the government's decision to declare the group's military telecommunications network illegal was a "declaration of war" on the organization, and demanded that the government revoke it. Hezbollah-led opposition fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods from Future Movement militiamen loyal to the backed government, in street battles that left 11 dead and 30 wounded. The opposition-seized areas were then handed over to the Lebanese Army. The army also pledged to resolve the dispute and has reversed the decisions of the government by letting Hezbollah preserve its telecoms network and re-instating the airport's security chief. At the end, rival Lebanese leaders reached consensus over Doha Agreement on 21 May 2008, to end the 18-month political feud that exploded into fighting and nearly drove the country to a new civil war. On the basis of this agreement, Hezbollah and its opposition allies were effectively granted veto power in Lebanon's parliament. At the end of the conflicts, National unity government was formed by Fouad Siniora on 11 July 2008, with Hezbollah controlling one ministerial and eleven of thirty cabinet places.
Hezbollah operates a satellite television station, Al-Manar TV ("the Lighthouse"), and a radio station, al-Nour ("the Light"). Al-Manar broadcasts from Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah launched the station in 1991 with the help of Iranian funds. Al-Manar, the self-proclaimed "Station of the Resistance," (qanat al-muqawama) is a key player in what Hezbollah calls its "psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy" and an integral part of Hezbollah's plan to spread its message to the entire Arab world. In addition, Hezbollah has a weekly publication, Al Ahd, which was established in 1984. It is the only media outlet which is openly affiliated with the organization.
Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar airs programming designed to inspire suicide attacks in Gaza, the West Bank, and Iraq. Al-Manar's transmission in France is prohibited due to its promotion of Holocaust denial, a criminal offense in France. The United States lists Al-Manar television network as a terrorist organization. Al-Manar was designated as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity," and banned by the United States in December 2004. It has also been banned by France, Spain and Germany.
Materials aimed at instilling principles of nationalism and Islam in children are an aspect of Hezbollah's media operations. The Hezbollah Central Internet Bureau released a video game in 2003 entitled Special Force and a sequel in 2007 in which players are rewarded with points and weapons for killing Israelis. In 2012, Al-Manar aired a television special praising an 8-year-old boy who raised money for Hezbollah and said: "When I grow up, I will be a communist resistance warrior with Hezbollah, fighting the United States and Israel, I will tear them to pieces and drive them out of Lebanon, the Golan and Palestine, which I love very dearly."
Hezbollah's secret services have been described as "one of the best in the world", and have even infiltrated the Israeli army. Hezbollah's secret services collaborate with the Lebanese intelligence agencies.
In the summer of 1982, Hezbollah's Special Security Apparatus was created by Hussein al-Khalil, now a "top political adviser to Nasrallah"; while Hezbollah's counterintelligence was initially managed by Iran's Quds Force,:238 the organization continued to grow during the 1990s. By 2008, scholar Carl Anthony Wege writes, "Hizballah had obtained complete dominance over Lebanon's official state counterintelligence apparatus, which now constituted a Hizballah asset for counterintelligence purposes.":775 This close connection with Lebanese intelligence helped bolster Hezbollah's financial counterintelligence unit.:772, 775
According to Ahmad Hamzeh, Hezbollah's counterintelligence service is divided into Amn al-Muddad, responsible for "external" or "encounter" security; and Amn al-Hizb, which protects the organization's integrity and its leaders. According to Wege, Amn al-Muddad "may have received specialized intelligence training in Iran and possibly North Korea".:773–774 The organization also includes a military security component, as well as an External Security Organization (al-Amn al-Khariji or Unit 910) that operates covertly outside Lebanon.:238
Successful Hezbollah counterintelligence operations include thwarting the CIA's attempted kidnapping of foreign operations chief Hassan Ezzeddine in 1994; the 1997 manipulation of a double agent that led to the Ansariya Ambush; and the 2000 kidnapping of alleged Mossad agent Elhanan Tannenbaum.:773 Hezbollah also collaborated with the Lebanese government in 2006 to detect Adeeb al-Alam, a former colonel, as an Israeli spy.:774 Also, the organization recruited IDF Lieutenant Colonel Omar al-Heib, who was convicted in 2006 of conducting surveillance for Hezbollah.:776 In 2009, Hezbollah apprehended Marwan Faqih, a garage owner who installed tracking devices in Hezbollah-owned vehicles.:774
Hezbollah's counterintelligence apparatus also uses electronic surveillance and intercept technologies. By 2011, Hezbollah counterintelligence began to use software to analyze cellphone data and detect espionage; suspicious callers were then subjected to conventional surveillance. In the mid-1990s, Hezbollah was able to "download unencrypted video feeds from Israeli drones,":777 and Israeli SIGINT efforts intensified after the 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon. With possible help from Iran and the Russian FSB, Hezbollah augmented its electronic counterintelligence capabilities, and succeeded by 2008 in detecting Israeli bugs near Mount Sannine and in the organization's fiber optic network.:774, 777–778
Hezbollah does not reveal its armed strength. Mustafa Alani, security director at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre, estimated that Hezbollah's armed wing comprises 1,000 full-time Hezbollah members, along with a further 6,000–10,000 volunteers. According to the Iranian Fars News Agency, Hezbollah has up to 65,000 fighters. It is often described as more militarily powerful than the Lebanese Army. Israeli commander Gui Zur called Hezbollah "by far the greatest guerrilla group in the world".
According to Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett, Hezbollah has around 130,000 rockets and missiles in place targeting Israel. Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot acknowledged that Hezbollah possesses "tens of thousands" of long- and short-range rockets, drones, advanced computer encryption capabilities, as well as advanced defense capabilities like the SA-6 anti-aircraft missile system.
Hezbollah possesses the Katyusha-122 rocket, which has a range of 29 km (18 mi) and carries a 15-kg (33-lb) warhead. Hezbollah also possesses about 100 long-range missiles. They include the Iranian-made Fajr-3 and Fajr-5, the latter with a range of 75 km (47 mi), enabling it to strike the Israeli port of Haifa, and the Zelzal-1, with an estimated 150 km (93 mi) range, which can reach Tel Aviv. Fajr-3 missiles have a range of 40 km (25 mi) and a 45-kg (99-lb) warhead, and Fajr-5 missiles, which extend to 72 km (45 mi), also hold 45-kg (99-lb) warheads. It was reported that Hezbollah is in possession of Scud missiles that were provided to them by Syria. Syria denied the reports. According to various reports, Hezbollah is armed with anti-tank guided missiles, namely, the Russian-made AT-3 Sagger, AT-4 Spigot, AT-5 Spandrel, AT-13 Saxhorn-2 'Metis-M', АТ-14 Spriggan 'Kornet'; Iranian-made Ra'ad (version of AT-3 Sagger), Towsan (version of AT-5 Spandrel), Toophan (version of BGM-71 TOW); and European-made MILAN missiles. These weapons have been used against IDF soldiers, causing many of the deaths during the 2006 Lebanon War. A small number of Saeghe-2s (Iranian-made version of M47 Dragon) were also used in the war.
For air defense, Hezbollah has anti-aircraft weapons that include the ZU-23 artillery and the man-portable, shoulder-fired SA-7 and SA-18 surface-to-air missile (SAM). One of the most effective weapons deployed by Hezbollah has been the C-802 anti-ship missile.
In April 2010, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claimed that the Hezbollah has far more missiles and rockets than the majority of countries, and said that Syria and Iran are providing weapons to the organization. Israel also claims that Syria is providing the organization with these weapons. Syria has denied supplying these weapons and views these claims as an Israeli excuse for an attack. Leaked cables from American diplomats suggest that the United States has been trying unsuccessfully to prevent Syria from "supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon", and that Hezbollah has "amassed a huge stockpile (of arms) since its 2006 war with Israel"; the arms were described as "increasingly sophisticated." Gates added that Hezbollah is possibly armed with chemical or biological weapons, as well as 65-mile (105 km) anti-ship missiles that could threaten U.S. ships.
As of 2017, the Israeli government believe Hezbollah had an arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets stationed on its border with Lebanon. Some of these missiles are said to be capable of penetrating cities as far away as Eilat. The IDF has accused Hezbollah of storing these rockets beneath hospitals, schools, and civilian homes. Hezbollah has also used drones against Israel, by penetrating air defense systems, in a report verified by Nasrallah, who added, "This is only part of our capabilities".
Israeli military officials and analysts have also drawn attention to the experience and weaponry the group would have gained from the involvement of thousands of its fighters in the Syrian Civil War. "This kind of experience cannot be bought," said Gabi Siboni, director of the military and strategic affairs program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. "It is an additional factor that we will have to deal with. There is no replacement for experience, and it is not to be scoffed at."
Hezbollah has a military branch known as the Jihad Council, one component of which is Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya ("The Islamic Resistance"), and is the possible sponsor of a number of lesser-known militant groups, some of which may be little more than fronts for Hezbollah itself, including the Organization of the Oppressed, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, the Organization of Right Against Wrong, and Followers of the Prophet Muhammad.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of militia with the Taif agreement at the end of the Lebanese civil war. Hezbollah denounced, and protested against, the resolution. The 2006 military conflict with Israel has increased the controversy. Failure to disarm remains a violation of the resolution and agreement as well as subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Since then both Israel and Hezbollah have asserted that the organization has gained in military strength. A Lebanese public opinion poll taken in August 2006 shows that most of the Shia did not believe that Hezbollah should disarm after the 2006 Lebanon war, while the majority of Sunni, Druze and Christians believed that they should. The Lebanese cabinet, under president Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, guidelines state that Hezbollah enjoys the right to "liberate occupied lands." In 2009, a Hezbollah commander (speaking on condition of anonymity) said, "[W]e have far more rockets and missiles [now] than we did in 2006."
|Lebanese Resistance Brigades|
Saraya al-Moukawama al-Lubnaniyya
سرايا المقاومة اللبنانيةParticipant in South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000) and Battle of Sidon (2013)
|Leaders||Mohammed Aknan (Beirut)|
Mohammad Saleh (Sidon) †
|Area of operations||Southern Lebanon, mainly Sidon|
|Allies||March 8 Alliance|
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
|Battles and war(s)||Battle of Sidon (2013)|
The Lebanese Resistance Brigades (Arabic: سرايا المقاومة اللبنانية Saraya al-Moukawama al-Lubnaniyya), also known as the Lebanese Brigades to Resist the Israeli Occupation, were formed by Hezbollah in 1997 as a multifaith (Christian, Druze, Sunni and Shia) volunteer force to combat the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. With the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the organization was disbanded.
In 2009, the Resistance Brigades were reactivated, mainly comprising Sunni supporters from the southern city of Sidon. Its strength was reduced in late 2013 from 500 to 200–250 due to residents complaints about some fighters of the group exacerbating tensions with the local community.
Between 1982 and 1986, there were 36 suicide attacks in Lebanon directed against American, French and Israeli forces by 41 individuals, killing 659. Hezbollah denies involvement in some of these attacks, though it has been accused of being involved or linked to some or all of these attacks:
Since 1990, terror acts and attempts of which Hezbollah has been blamed include the following bombings and attacks against civilians and diplomats:
Hezbollah provided fighters to fight on the Bosnian Muslim side during the Bosnian War, as part of the broader Iranian involvement. "The Bosnian Muslim government is a client of the Iranians," wrote Robert Baer, a CIA agent stationed in Sarajevo during the war. "If it’s a choice between the CIA and the Iranians, they’ll take the Iranians any day." By war’s end, public opinion polls showed some 86 percent Bosnian Muslims had a positive opinion of Iran. In conjuction, Hezbollah initially sent 150 fighters to fight against the Bosnian Serb Army, the Bosnian Muslims' main opponent in the war. All Shia foreign advisors and fighters withdrew from Bosnia at the end of conflict.
Hezbollah has been involved in several cases of armed conflict with Israel:
On 7 October 2000, three Israeli soldiers – Adi Avitan, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham, and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaidwere – were abducted by Hezbollah while patrolling the Israeli side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. The soldiers were killed either during the attack or in its immediate aftermath. Israel Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has, however, said that Hezbollah abducted the soldiers and then killed them. The bodies of the slain soldiers were exchanged for Lebanese prisoners in 2004.
The 2006 Lebanon War was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military. The conflict was precipitated by a cross-border raid during which Hezbollah kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers. The conflict began on 12 July 2006 when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, killing three, injuring two, and seizing two Israeli soldiers.
Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon that damaged Lebanese infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport (which Israel said that Hezbollah used to import weapons and supplies), an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions. The war continued until 14 August 2006. Hezbollah was responsible for thousands of Katyusha rocket attacks against Israeli civilian towns and cities in northern Israel, which Hezbollah said were in retaliation for Israel's killing of civilians and targeting Lebanese infrastructure. The conflict is believed to have killed 1,191–1,300 Lebanese citizens including combatants and 165 Israelis including soldiers.
In 2010, Hezbollah claimed that the Dalit and Tamar gas field, discovered by Noble Energy roughly 50 miles (80 km) west of Haifa in Israeli exclusive economic zone, belong to Lebanon, and warned Israel against extracting gas from them. Senior officials from Hezbollah warned that they would not hesitate to use weapons to defend Lebanon's natural resources. Figures in the March 14 Forces stated in response that Hezbullah was presenting another excuse to hold on to its arms. Lebanese MP Antoine Zahra said that the issue is another item "in the endless list of excuses" meant to justify the continued existence of Hezbullah's arsenal.
In July 2011, Italian newspaper Corierre della Sera reported, based on American and Turkish sources, that Hezbollah was behind a bombing in Istanbul in May 2011 that wounded eight Turkish civilians. The report said that the attack was an assassination attempt on the Israeli consul to Turkey, Moshe Kimchi. Turkish intelligence sources denied the report and said "Israel is in the habit of creating disinformation campaigns using different papers."
In July 2012, a Lebanese man was detained by Cyprus police on possible charges relating to terrorism laws for planning attacks against Israeli tourists. According to security officials, the man was planning attacks for Hezbollah in Cyprus and admitted this after questioning. The police were alerted about the man due to an urgent message from Israeli intelligence. The Lebanese man was in possession of photographs of Israeli targets and had information on Israeli airlines flying back and forth from Cyprus, and planned to blow up a plane or tour bus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Iran assisted the Lebanese man with planning the attacks.
Following an investigation into the 2012 Burgas bus bombing terrorist attack against Israeli citizens in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian government officially accused the Lebanese-militant movement Hezbollah of committing the attack. Five Israeli citizens, the Bulgarian bus driver, and the bomber were killed. The bomb exploded as the Israeli tourists boarded a bus from the airport to their hotel.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Bulgaria's interior minister, reported that the two suspects responsible were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah; he said the suspected terrorists entered Bulgaria on 28 June and remained until 18 July. Israel had already previously suspected Hezbollah for the attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the report "further corroboration of what we have already known, that Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons are orchestrating a worldwide campaign of terror that is spanning countries and continents." Netanyahu said that the attack in Bulgaria was just one of many that Hezbollah and Iran have planned and carried out, including attacks in Thailand, Kenya, Turkey, India, Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Georgia.
John Brennan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has said that "Bulgaria's investigation exposes Hezbollah for what it is – a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world." The result of the Bulgarian investigation comes at a time when Israel has been petitioning the European Union to join the United States in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
In response to an attack against a military convoy comprising Hezbollah and Iranian officers on 18 January 2015 at Quneitra in south of Syria, Hezbollah launched an ambush on 28 January against an Israeli military convoy in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms with anti-tank missiles against two Israeli vehicles patrolling the border, killing 2 and wounding 7 Israeli soldiers and officers, as confirmed by Israeli military.
On 14 February 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri was killed, along with 21 others, when his motorcade was struck by a roadside bomb in Beirut. He had been PM during 1992–1998 and 2000–2004. In 2009, the United Nations special tribunal investigating the murder of Hariri reportedly found evidence linking Hezbollah to the murder.
In August 2010, in response to notification that the UN tribunal would indict some Hezbollah members, Hassan Nasrallah said Israel was looking for a way to assassinate Hariri as early as 1993 in order to create political chaos that would force Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and to perpetuate an anti-Syrian atmosphere [in Lebanon] in the wake of the assassination. He went on to say that in 1996 Hezbollah apprehended an agent working for Israel by the name of Ahmed Nasrallah – no relation to Hassan Nasrallah – who allegedly contacted Hariri's security detail and told them that he had solid proof that Hezbollah was planning to take his life. Hariri then contacted Hezbollah and advised them of the situation. Saad Hariri responded that the UN should investigate these claims.
On 30 June 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to investigate the death of Hariri, issued arrest warrants against four senior members of Hezbollah, including Mustafa Badr Al Din. On 3 July, Hassan Nasrallah rejected the indictment and denounced the tribunal as a plot against the party, vowing that the named persons would not be arrested under any circumstances.
Hezbollah has long been an ally of the Ba'ath government of Syria, led by the Al-Assad family. Hezbollah has helped the Syrian government during the Syrian civil war in its fight against the Syrian opposition, which Hezbollah has described as a zionist plot to destroy its alliance with al-Assad against Israel. Geneive Abdo opined that Hezbollah's support for al-Assad in the Syrian war has "transformed" it from a group with "support among the Sunni for defeating Israel in a battle in 2006" into a "strictly Shia paramilitary force".
In August 2012, the United States sanctioned Hezbollah for its alleged role in the war. General Secretary Nasrallah denied Hezbollah had been fighting on behalf of the Syrian government, stating in a 12 October 2012, speech that "right from the start the Syrian opposition has been telling the media that Hizbullah sent 3,000 fighters to Syria, which we have denied". However, according to the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, Nasrallah said in the same speech that Hezbollah fighters helped the Syrian government "retain control of some 23 strategically located villages [in Syria] inhabited by Shiites of Lebanese citizenship". Nasrallah said that Hezbollah fighters have died in Syria doing their "jihadist duties".
In 2012, Hezbollah fighters crossed the border from Lebanon and took over eight villages in the Al-Qusayr District of Syria. On 16–17 February 2013, Syrian opposition groups claimed that Hezbollah, backed by the Syrian military, attacked three neighboring Sunni villages controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). An FSA spokesman said, "Hezbollah's invasion is the first of its kind in terms of organisation, planning and coordination with the Syrian regime's air force". Hezbollah said three Lebanese Shiites, "acting in self-defense", were killed in the clashes with the FSA. Lebanese security sources said that the three were Hezbollah members. In response, the FSA allegedly attacked two Hezbollah positions on 21 February; one in Syria and one in Lebanon. Five days later, it said it destroyed a convoy carrying Hezbollah fighters and Syrian officers to Lebanon, killing all the passengers.
In January 2013, a weapons convoy carrying SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah was destroyed allegedly by the Israeli Air Force. A nearby research center for chemical weapons was also damaged. A similar attack on weapons destined for Hezbollah occurred in May of the same year.
The leaders of the March 14 alliance and other prominent Lebanese figures called on Hezbollah to end its involvement in Syria and said it is putting Lebanon at risk. Subhi al-Tufayli, Hezbollah's former leader, said "Hezbollah should not be defending the criminal regime that kills its own people and that has never fired a shot in defense of the Palestinians". He said "those Hezbollah fighters who are killing children and terrorizing people and destroying houses in Syria will go to hell". The Consultative Gathering, a group of Shia and Sunni leaders in Baalbek-Hermel, also called on Hezbollah not to "interfere" in Syria. They said, "Opening a front against the Syrian people and dragging Lebanon to war with the Syrian people is very dangerous and will have a negative impact on the relations between the two". Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, also called on Hezbollah to end its involvement and claimed that "Hezbollah is fighting inside Syria with orders from Iran". Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi condemned Hezbollah by saying, "We stand against Hezbollah in its aggression against the Syrian people. There is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria". Support for Hezbollah among the Syrian public has weakened since the involvement of Hezbollah and Iran in propping up the Assad regime during the civil war.
On 12 May 2013, Hezbollah with the Syrian army attempted to retake part of Qusayr. In Lebanon, there has been "a recent increase in the funerals of Hezbollah fighters" and "Syrian rebels have shelled Hezbollah-controlled areas."
On 25 May 2013, Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah is fighting in the Syrian Civil War against Islamic extremists and "pledged that his group will not allow Syrian militants to control areas that border Lebanon". He confirmed that Hezbollah was fighting in the strategic Syrian town of Al-Qusayr on the same side as Assad's forces. In the televised address, he said, "If Syria falls in the hands of America, Israel and the takfiris, the people of our region will go into a dark period."
Beginning in July 2014, Hezbollah sent an undisclosed number of technical advisers and intelligence analysts to Baghdad in support of the Iranian intervention in Iraq (2014–present). Shortly thereafter, Hezbollah commander Ibrahim al-Hajj was reported killed in action near Mosul.
Hezbollah operations in South America began in the late 20th Century, centered around the Arab population which had moved there following the 1948 Arab-Iraeli War and the 1985 Lebanese Civil War. In 2002, Hezbollah was operating openly in Ciudad del Este. Beginning in 2008 the United States Drug Enforcement Agency began with Project Cassandra to work against Hezbollah activities in regards to Latin American drug trafficking. The investigation by the DEA found that Hezbollah made about a billion dollars a year and trafficked thousands of tons of cocaine into the United States. Another destination for cocaine trafficking done by Hezbollah are nations within the Gulf Cooperation Council. In 2013, Hezbollah was accused of infiltrating South America and having ties with Latin American drug cartels. One area of operations is in the region of the Triple Frontier, where Hezbollah has been alleged to be involved in the trafficking of cocaine; officials with the Lebanese embassy in Paraguay have worked to counter American allegations and extradition attempts. In 2016, it was alleged that money gained from drug sales was used to purchase weapons in Syria. In 2018, Infobae reported that Hezbollah was operating in Colombia under the name Organization of External Security. That same year, Argentine police made arrest to individuals alleged to be connected to Hezbollah's criminal activities within the nation. It is also alleged that Venezuela aids Hezbollah in its operations in the region. One particular form of involvement is money laundering.
In 2010, Ahbash and Hezbollah members were involved in a street battle which was perceived to be over parking issues, both groups later met to form a joint compensation fund for the victims of the conflict.
Hezbollah has also been the target of bomb attacks and kidnappings. These include:
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hezbollah condemned al-Qaeda for targeting civilians in the World Trade Center, but remained silent on the attack on The Pentagon. Hezbollah also denounced the massacres in Algeria by Armed Islamic Group, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya attacks on tourists in Egypt, the murder of Nick Berg, and ISIL attacks in Paris.
Although Hezbollah has denounced certain attacks on civilians, some people accuse the organization of the bombing of an Argentine synagogue in 1994. Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, Marcelo Martinez Burgos, and their "staff of some 45 people" said that Hezbollah and their contacts in Iran were responsible for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina, in which "[e]ighty-five people were killed and more than 200 others injured." In June 2002, shortly after the Israeli government launched Operation Defensive Shield, Nasrallah gave a speech in which he defended and praised suicide bombings of Israeli targets by members of Palestinian groups for "creating a deterrence and equalizing fear." Nasrallah stated that "in occupied Palestine, there is no difference between a soldier and a civilian, for they are all invaders, occupiers and usurpers of the land."
In August 2012, the United States State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin warned that Hezbollah may attack Europe at any time without any warning. Benjamin said, "Hezbollah maintains a presence in Europe and its recent activities demonstrate that it is not constrained by concerns about collateral damage or political fallout that could result from conducting operations there ... We assess that Hezbollah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning" and that Hezbollah has "stepped up terrorist campaigns around the world."
Hezbollah has close relations with Iran. It also has ties with the leadership in Syria, specifically President Hafez al-Assad (until his death in 2000) supported it. It's also a close Assad ally, and its leader pledged support to the embattled Syrian leader. Although Hezbollah and Hamas are not organizationally linked, Hezbollah provides military training as well as financial and moral support to the Sunni Palestinian group. Furthermore, Hezbollah is a strong supporter of the ongoing Al-Aqsa Intifada.
American and Israeli counter-terrorism officials claim that Hezbollah has (or had) links to Al Qaeda, although Hezbollah's leaders deny these allegations. Also, some al-Qaeda leaders, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Wahhabi clerics, consider Hezbollah to be apostate. But United States intelligence officials speculate that there has been contact between Hezbollah and low-level al-Qaeda figures who fled Afghanistan for Lebanon. However, Michel Samaha, Lebanon's former minister of information, has said that Hezbollah has been an important ally of the government in the war against terrorist groups, and described the "American attempt to link Hezbollah to al-Qaeda" to be "astonishing".
According to Michel Samaha, Lebanon's minister of information, Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate resistance organization that has defended its land against an Israeli occupying force and has consistently stood up to the Israeli army.
According to a survey released by the "Beirut Center for Research and Information" on 26 July during the 2006 Lebanon War, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hezbollah's "retaliatory attacks on northern Israel", a rise of 29 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, was the level of support for Hezbollah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hezbollah, along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.
In a poll of Lebanese adults taken in 2004, 6% of respondents gave unqualified support to the statement "Hezbollah should be disarmed". 41% reported unqualified disagreement. A poll of Gaza Strip and West Bank residents indicated that 79.6% had "a very good view" of Hezbollah, and most of the remainder had a "good view". Polls of Jordanian adults in December 2005 and June 2006 showed that 63.9% and 63.3%, respectively, considered Hezbollah to be a legitimate resistance organization.In the December 2005 poll, only 6% of Jordanian adults considered Hezbollah to be terrorist.
A July 2006 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 83% of the 1,005 Americans polled blamed Hezbollah, at least in part, for the 2006 Lebanon War, compared to 66% who blamed Israel to some degree. Additionally, 76% disapproved of the military action Hezbollah took in Israel, compared to 38% who disapproved of Israel's military action in Lebanon. A poll in August 2006 by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 68% of the 1,002 Americans polled blamed Hezbollah, at least in part, for the civilian casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War, compared to 31% who blamed Israel to some degree. Another August 2006 poll by CNN showed that 69% of the 1,047 Americans polled believed that Hezbollah is unfriendly towards, or an enemy of, the United States.
Some public opinion has started to turn against Hezbollah for their support of Syrian President Assad's attacks on the opposition movement in Syria. Crowds in Cairo shouted out against Iran and Hezbollah, at a public speech by Hamas President Ismail Haniya in February 2012, when Hamas changed its support to the Syrian opposition.
Hezbollah's status as a legitimate political party, a terrorist group, a resistance movement, or some combination thereof is a contentious issue.
There is a "wide difference" between American and Arab perception of Hezbollah. Several Western countries officially classify Hezbollah or its external security wing as a terrorist organization, and some of their violent acts have been described as terrorist attacks. However, throughout most of the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hezbollah is referred to as a resistance movement, engaged in national defense. Even within Lebanon, sometimes Hezbollah's status as either a "militia" or "national resistance" has been contentious. In Lebanon, although not universally well-liked, Hezbollah is widely seen as a legitimate national resistance organization defending Lebanon, and actually described by the Lebanese information minister as an important ally in fighting terrorist groups. In the Arab world, Hezbollah is generally seen either as a destabilizing force that functions as Iran's pawn by rentier states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, or as a popular sociopolitical guerilla movement that exemplifies strong leadership, meaningful political action, and a commitment to social justice.
The United Nations Security Council has never listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization under its sanctions list, although some of its members have done so individually. The United Kingdom listed Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist organization until May 2019 when the entire organisation was proscribed, and the United States lists the entire group as such. Russia has considered Hezbollah a legitimate sociopolitical organization, and the People's Republic of China remains neutral and maintains contacts with Hezbollah.
The following entities have listed Hezbollah as a terror group:
|Arab League||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|Australia||Hezbollah's External Security Organization|||
|Bahrain||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|Canada||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|European Union||Hezbollah's military wing|||
|France||The military wing of Hezbollah|||
|Gulf Cooperation Council||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|Israel||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|Japan||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|Netherlands||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|New Zealand||Hezbollah's military wing Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, since 2010|||
|United Arab Emirates||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|United Kingdom||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
|United States||The entire organization Hezbollah|||
The following countries do not consider Hezbollah a terror organization:
|China||The People's Republic of China remains neutral and maintains contacts with Hezbollah|||
|Cuba||Hezbollah operates a base in Cuba|||
|North Korea||Allegedly supports Hezbollah|||
|Russia||Considers Hezbollah a legitimate sociopolitical organization|||
The United States Department of State has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization since 1995. The group remains on Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Terrorist lists. According to the Congressional Research Service, "The U.S. government holds Hezbollah responsible for a number of attacks and hostage takings targeting Americans in Lebanon during the 1980s, including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983 and the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in October 1983, which together killed 258 Americans. Hezbollah's operations outside of Lebanon, including its participation in bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina during the 1990s and more recent training and liaison activities with Shiite insurgents in Iraq, have cemented the organization's reputation among U.S. policy makers as a capable and deadly adversary with potential global reach."
The United Kingdom was the first government to attempt to make a distinction between Hezbollah's political and military wings, declaring the latter a terrorist group in July 2008 after Hezbollah confirmed its association with Imad Mughniyeh. In 2012, British "Foreign Minister William Hague urged the European Union to place Hezbollah's military wing on its list of terrorist organizations." The United States also urged the EU to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In light of findings implicating Hezbollah in the bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria in 2012, there was renewed discussion within the European Union to label Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist group. On 22 July 2013, the European Union agreed to blacklist Hezbollah's military wing over concerns about its growing role in the Syrian conflict.
In the midst of the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, Russia's government declined to include Hezbollah in a newly released list of terrorist organizations, with Yuri Sapunov, the head of anti-terrorism for the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, saying that they list only organizations which represent "the greatest threat to the security of our country". Prior to the release of the list, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called "on Hezbollah to stop resorting to any terrorist methods, including attacking neighboring states."
The Quartet's fourth member, the United Nations, does not maintain such a list, however, the United Nations has made repeated calls for Hezbollah to disarm and accused the group of destabilizing the region and causing harm to Lebanese civilians. Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Hezbollah of committing war crimes against Israeli civilians.
Argentine prosecutors hold Hezbollah and their financial supporters in Iran responsible for the 1994 AMIA Bombing of a Jewish cultural center, described by the Associated Press as "the worst terrorist attack on Argentine soil," in which "[e]ighty-five people were killed and more than 200 others injured." During the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin condemned attacks by Hezbollah fighters on Israeli forces in south Lebanon, saying they were "terrorism" and not acts of resistance. "France condemns Hezbollah's attacks, and all types of terrorist attacks which may be carried out against soldiers, or possibly Israel's civilian population." Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema differentiated the wings of Hezbollah: "Apart from their well-known terrorist activities, they also have political standing and are socially engaged." Germany does not maintain its own list of terrorist organizations, having chosen to adopt the common EU list. However, German officials have indicated they would likely support designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The Netherlands regards Hezbollah as terrorist discussing it as such in official reports of their general intelligence and security service and in official answers by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On 22 July 2013, the European Union declared the military wings of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization; effectively blacklisting the entity.
The United States, France, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel have classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In early 2015, the US Director of National Intelligence removed Hezbollah from the list of "active terrorist threats" against the United States while Hezbollah remained designated as terrorist by the US, and by mid 2015 several Hezbollah officials were sanctioned by the US for their role in facilitating military activity in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. The European Union, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Australia have proscribed Hezbollah's military wing, but do not list Hezbollah as a whole as a terrorist organization.
In 2006, Hezbollah was regarded as a legitimate resistance movement throughout most of the Arab and Muslim world. Furthermore, most of the Sunni Arab world sees Hezbollah as an agent of Iranian influence, and therefore, would like to see their power in Lebanon diminished. Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have condemned Hezbollah's actions, saying that "the Arabs and Muslims can't afford to allow an irresponsible and adventurous organization like Hezbollah to drag the region to war" and calling it "dangerous adventurism",
After an alleged 2009 Hezbollah plot in Egypt, the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak officially classified Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Following the 2012 Presidential elections the new government recognized Hezbollah as a "real political and military force" in Lebanon. The Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Hamdy, stated that "Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory ... That's their primary role. We ... think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate."
During the Bahraini uprising, Bahrain foreign minister Khalid ibn Ahmad Al Khalifah labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group and accused them of supporting the protesters. On 10 April 2013, Bahrain blacklisted Hezbollah as a terrorist group, being the first Arab state in this regard.
During the 2011 Syrian uprising Hezbollah's has voiced support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which has prompted criticism from anti-government Syrians. As Hezbollah supported other movements in the context of the Arab Spring, anti-government Syrians have stated that they feel "betrayed" by a double standard allegedly applied by the movement. Following Hezbollah's aid in Assad government's victory in Qusair, anti-Hezbollah editorials began regularly appearing in the Arabic media and anti-Hezbollah graffiti has been seen in southern Lebanon.
In March 2016, Gulf Cooperation Council designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization due to its alleged attempts to undermine GCC states, and Arab League followed the move, with reservation by Iraq and Lebanon. In the summit, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said that "Hezbollah enjoys wide representation and is an integral faction of the Lebanese community", while Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said PMF and Hezbollah "have preserved Arab dignity" and those who accuse them of being terrorists are terrorists themselves. Saudi delegation walked out of the meeting. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the step "important and even amazing".
A day before the move by the Arab League, Hezbollah leader Nsarallah said that "Saudi Arabia is angry with Hezbollah since it is daring to say what only a few others dare to say against its royal family".
In an interview during the 2006 Lebanon War, then-President Emile Lahoud stated "Hezbollah enjoys utmost prestige in Lebanon, because it freed our country ... even though it is very small, it stands up to Israel." Following the 2006 War, other Lebanese including members of the government were resentful of the large damage sustained by the country and saw Hezbollah's actions as unjustified "dangerous adventurism" rather than legitimate resistance. They accused Hezbollah of acting on behalf of Iran and Syria. An official of the Future Movement, part of the March 14 Alliance, warned that Hezbollah "has all the characteristics of a terrorist party", and that Hezbollah is moving Lebanon toward the Iranian Islamic system of government.
In August 2008, Lebanon's cabinet completed a policy statement which recognized "the right of Lebanon's people, army, and resistance to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, Kafar Shuba Hills, and the Lebanese section of Ghajar village, and defend the country using all legal and possible means."
Gebran Tueni, a late conservative Orthodox Christian editor of an-Nahar, referred to Hezbollah as an "Iranian import" and said "they have nothing to do with Arab civilization." Tuení believed that Hezbollah's evolution is cosmetic, concealing a sinister long-term strategy to Islamicize Lebanon and lead it into a ruinous war with Israel.
While Hezbollah has supported popular uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Tunisia, Hezbollah publicly sided with Iran and Syria in their own violent repressions of dissent. In August 2010, 800 people demonstrated in Beirut against Syrian President Bashar Assad, and police were called in to contain the smaller pro-Syrian rallies that followed. Demonstrators were shouting, "Syria wants freedom," "Anyone who kills his people is a murderer and a coward," and "the people want an end to the regime."
By 2017, a poll showed that 62 percent of Lebanese Christians believed that Hezbollah was doing a "better job than anyone else in defending Lebanese interests in the region, and they trust it more than other social institutions."
Academics specializing in a wide variety of the social sciences believe that Hezbollah is an example of an Islamic terrorist organization. Such scholars and research institutes include the following:
J. Gresham Barrett brought up legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives which, among other things, referred to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Congress members Tom Lantos, Jim Saxton, Thad McCotter, Chris Shays, Charles Boustany, Alcee Hastings, and Robert Wexler referred to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in their speeches supporting the legislation. Shortly before a speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Congressman Dennis Hastert said, "He [Maliki] denounces terrorism, and I have to take him at his word. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization."
In 2011, a bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act. The act ensures that no American aid to Lebanon will enter the hands of Hezbollah. On the day of the act's introduction, Congressman Darrell Issa said, "Hezbollah is a terrorist group and a cancer on Lebanon. The Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act surgically targets this cancer and will strengthen the position of Lebanese who oppose Hezbollah."
Hezbollah's anti-Western militancy began with attacks against Western targets in Lebanon, then expanded to attacks abroad intended to exact revenge for actions threatening its or Iran's interests, or to press foreign governments to release captured operatives.
Based upon these beliefs, Hezbollah became vehemently anti-West and anti-Israel.
Hezbollah is anti-West and anti-Israel and has engaged in a series of terrorist actions including kidnappings, car bombings, and airline hijackings.
Hizballah's External Security Organisation was proscribed March 2001 and in 2008 the proscription was extended to Hizballah's Military apparatus including the Jihad Council.
... the Jihad Council coordinates 'resistance activity'.
... Hezbollah's military wing … Known as the "Jihad Council"
And if there is one thing that ideologically and diametrically opposed Hezbollah and Israel agree on, it is Hezbollah's growing military strength.
Hezbollah, stronger than the Lebanese Army, has the power to drag the country into war without a government decision, as in 2006, when it set off the war by capturing two Israeli soldiers
... Hezbollah, which has a fighting force generally considered more powerful than the Lebanese army.
... the fighting has also diluted the resources that used to go exclusively to facing Israel, exacerbated sectarian divisions in the region, and alienated large segments of the majority Sunni population who once embraced Hezbollah as a liberation force... Never before have Hezbollah guerrillas fought alongside a formal army, waged war outside Lebanon or initiated broad offensives aimed at seizing territory.
... Hasan Nasrallah has called the deployment of his fighters to Syria a 'new phase' for the movement, and it marks the first time the group has sent significant numbers of men outside Lebanon's borders.
From 2000 to 2006, Iran contributed a hundred million dollars a year to Hezbollah. Its fighters are attractive proxies: unlike the Iranians, they speak Arabic, making them better equipped to operate in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Hezbollah has portrayed the Syrian uprising as an Israeli-backed plot to destroy its alliance with Mr. Assad against Israel.
By siding with the Assad regime, the regime's Alawite supporters, and Iran, and taking up arms against Sunni rebels, Hezbollah has placed itself at the epicenter of a sectarian conflict that has nothing to do with the group's purported raison d'être: 'resistance' to Israeli occupation.
... the Lebanese group's image at home and in the broader Arab world has been severely damaged because it is fighting Sunni rebels in Syria while its legitimacy rested on its role in fighting Israel.
Hezbollah is more than just anti-Zionist; it also exhibits a rabid streak of anti-Semitism, replete with Nazi-like salutes and goose-step marches. In addition, like most other Islamist extremist and terrorist organizations, Hezbollah engages in pure Holocaust denial. … Hezbollah's anti-Semitism, however, pervades the organization much more extensively than just Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories. Despite the rare occasions where Hezbollah officials have stated they are anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, these words do not hold up upon closer examination. … Notably, during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Islamist group apologized only for killing Israeli Arabs, who are not Jewish.
... Cables describe the United States' failing struggle to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel. ... information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group.
[T]he only way for Mr. Assad, a longtime Hezbollah ally, to repay the group is by supplying it with sophisticated weapons.
3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias
"Report: Hezbollah tried to kill Israeli consul." Ynetnews. 18 July 2011.
Quoting Washington sources, the paper said the attack was meant to avenge the death of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi who was killed last year. ... Turkish intelligence first attributed the Istanbul attack ... to the Kurdish resistance, but later concluded that Hezbollah, working on behalf of Iran, had organized it. According to the report, three Hezbollah operatives arrived in Istanbul from Beirut to assassinate Kimchi.
Sapunov told Rossiiskaya Gazeta the list of 17 "includes only those organizations which represent the greatest threat to the security of our country." Groups linked to separatist militants in Chechnya and Islamic radicals in Central Asia made the list.
But they're not a terrorist organization.
The 2000–2006 Shebaa Farms conflict was a low level border conflict consisting of Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks on the Israeli Defense Forces and IDF artillery barrages and air strikes in Southern Lebanon. Clashes followed the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon in 2000, which Hezbollah viewed as incomplete due to the presence of Israeli troops in the disputed Shebaa farms. Fighting came to an end after the 2006 Lebanon War.2006 Lebanon War
The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War (Arabic: حرب تموز, Ḥarb Tammūz) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון השנייה, Milhemet Levanon HaShniya), was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, Northern Israel and the Golan Heights. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The conflict started on 12 July 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect in the morning on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006 when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon. Due to unprecedented Iranian military support to Hezbollah before and during the war, some consider it the first round of the Iran–Israel proxy conflict, rather than a continuation of the Arab–Israeli conflict.The conflict was precipitated by the 2006 Hezbollah cross-border raid. On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah fighters fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two Israeli soldiers were abducted and taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Five more were killed in Lebanon, in a failed rescue attempt. Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of the abducted soldiers. Israel refused and responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon. Israel attacked both Hezbollah military targets and Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport. The IDF launched a ground invasion of Southern Lebanon. Israel also imposed an air and naval blockade. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the IDF in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.The conflict is believed to have killed between 1,191 and 1,300 Lebanese people, and 165 Israelis. It severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis.On 11 August 2006, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (UNSCR 1701) in an effort to end the hostilities. The resolution, which was approved by both the Lebanese and Israeli governments the following days, called for disarmament of Hezbollah, for withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon, and for the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces and an enlarged United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the south. UNIFIL was given an expanded mandate, including the ability to use force to ensure that their area of operations was not used for hostile activities, and to resist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties. The Lebanese Army began deploying in Southern Lebanon on 17 August 2006. The blockade was lifted on 8 September 2006. On 1 October 2006, most Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon, although the last of the troops continued to occupy the border-straddling village of Ghajar. In the time since the enactment of UNSCR 1701 both the Lebanese government and UNIFIL have stated that they will not disarm Hezbollah. The remains of the two captured soldiers, whose fates were unknown, were returned to Israel on 16 July 2008 as part of a prisoner exchange.2015 Southern Syria offensive
The 2015 Southern Syria offensive, code-named "Operation Martyrs of Quneitra", was an offensive launched in southern Syria during the Syrian Civil War by the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces. Government forces also include Iranian sponsored Afghani Shi'ite volunteer militias. The name "Operation Martyrs of Quneitra" refers to the January 2015 Mazraat Amal incident, in which several high level Hezbollah and IRGC members were killed in an Israeli strike.After Syrian troops and their allies captured 15 towns, villages and hills, the operation slowed and stalled during attempts to advance on Kafr Shams and Kafr Nasij. The gains by pro-government troops were described as limited, while the pro-Damascus As-Safir reported the gains were a "devastating" defeat for the rebels. Most viewed the offensive as unsuccessful, with the rebels "weathering" the "collapsed" offensive.Al-Manar
Al-Manar (Arabic:المنار al-Manār; English: the beacon) is a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah, broadcasting from Beirut, Lebanon.Al-Manar was designated as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity,” and banned by the United States on 17 December 2004.
It has also been banned by France, Spain, and Germany,
and has run into some service and license problems outside Lebanon, making it unavailable in the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia, while it has not officially been banned in any of these regions.Al-Otaiba ambush
The Al-Otaiba ambush was a successful military operation conducted on 26 February 2014 by Hezbollah against al-Nusra militants at Al-Otaiba, a village in East Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria. In the ambush, a long, single-file column of alleged al-Nusrah Front fighters were obliterated by multiple, simultaneous IED blasts. They were then targeted by Hezbollah with additional secondary explosions and small-arms fire. Hezbollah received minor support from the Syrian Army in the ambush.Various reports suggest that over 100 al-Nusra fighters were killed, which makes the ambush a major victory for Hezbollah. According to analysts, the operation may have tightened the government's grip on east Damascus.Al-Qusayr offensive
The al-Qusayr offensive was an operation by the Syrian Government forces against Opposition forces at al-Qusayr in Homs province, during the Syrian Civil War. The operation was launched on 4 April 2013, the Syrian Army, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the National Defense Forces played key roles in the attack. Its aim was to capture all villages around the rebel-held town of al-Qusayr, thus tightening the siege of the city and ultimately launching an attack on al-Qusayr itself. The region was an important supply route for rebels fighting Syrian government forces in Homs.Aleppo offensive (October–December 2015)
The Aleppo offensive (October–December 2015) was an operation that started on 16 October when the Syrian Army launched a large-scale strategic offensive south of Aleppo. The main objective of the operation was to secure the Azzan Mountains, while also creating a larger buffer-zone around the Syrian Government’s only highway leading to the provincial capital. The objective was also reportedly to set conditions for an upcoming offensive to isolate rebel forces in Aleppo City and to relieve the long-standing siege of a pro-government enclave in Aleppo Province.Gen. Qasem Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages were taken by government forces. Gen. Soleimani was in command of the Syrian Arab Army's 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kataebat Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers). The Syrian government's progress deep into the southern Aleppo countryside has been attributed in large part to the Iranian leadership during the offensive.Battle of Zabadani (2015)
The Battle of Zabadani (2015) started in early July 2015, during the Syrian Civil War, as a military offensive launched by the Syrian Army, and Hezbollah to capture the rebel-held town of Al-Zabadani.Battle of al-Qusayr (2013)
The second of two battles in al-Qusayr started on 19 May 2013, as part of the larger al-Qusayr offensive, launched in early April 2013 by the Syrian Army and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, during the Syrian civil war, with the aim of capturing the villages around the rebel-held town of al-Qusayr and ultimately launching an attack on the town itself. The region was strategically important as a supply route for rebels fighting Syrian government forces in Homs and also for the Syrian government, as it lies between the capital, Damascus, and the Syrian coast, a stronghold for Assad supporters.Prior to the offensive, the Syrian Air Force dropped leaflets over the town warning that government forces were going to attack the city. This led to thousands of civilians fleeing, though 25,000 residents stayed. Free Syrian Army (FSA) General Salim Idris warned of a "massacre" if the Syrian Army and Hezbollah were to take the town.During the final days of the battle Hezbollah forces and rebels negotiated a withdrawal plan, in which the rebels and civilians could evacuate the town through a narrow corridor without being attacked. On 5 June, after two weeks of fighting, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah regained control of al-Qusayr as the last rebel contingents retreated. One observer described the battle as the "defining battle of the country's civil war."Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah (Arabic: حسن نصرالله [ħasan nasˤrɑɫɫɑh]; born 31 August 1960) is the third and current Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah since his predecessor, Abbas al-Musawi, was assassinated by the Israel Defense Forces in February 1992. Nasrallah is often referred to as "al-Sayyid Hassan" (السيّد حسن), the honorific "Sayyid" denoting descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandson Husain ibn Ali. Under his tenure, Hezbollah has been designated a terrorist organization, either wholly or in part, by the United States and other nations, as well as by the European Union. Russia rejects the claims that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and considers Hezbollah a legitimate sociopolitical organization. The People's Republic of China remains neutral, and maintains contacts with Hezbollah.Hezbollah involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Hezbollah involvement in the Syrian Civil War has been substantial since the beginning of armed insurgency phase of the Syrian Civil War, and turned into active support and troop deployment from 2012 onwards. By 2014, Hezbollah involvement begun to turn steady in support of Syrian Ba'athist Government forces across Syria. Hezbollah deployed several thousand fighters in Syria and by 2015 lost up to 1,500 fighters in combat. Hezbollah has also been very active to prevent rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon.
In the past, Hezbollah has served a strategic arm of Iran in the region, allegedly playing a key role in the Iran–Israel and Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflicts in the middle east. In a number of occasions, Hezbollah weapon convoys in Syria and Syrian-Lebanese border areas were attacked, with Israel being the main suspected party behind most such attacks, though Israel did not claim responsibility except for the March 2017 Israel–Syria incident. Hezbollah convoys have also been attacked by Syrian rebel factions, most notably the Al-Nusra Front.Iran and state-sponsored terrorism
Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the government of Iran has been accused by several countries, including the United States, of funding, providing equipment, weapons, training and giving sanctuary to terrorists. Iran has been accused of training, financing, and providing weapons and safe havens for non-state militant actors, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and other Palestinian groups (Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)). These groups are designated terrorist groups by a number of countries and international bodies; however, Iran considers such groups to be "national liberation movements" with a right to self-defense in the face of Israeli military occupation. The United States State Department has also accused Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militias of terrorism against US troops, and Iran of cyberterrorism, primarily through its Quds Force.Iran–Israel proxy conflict
The Iran–Israel proxy conflict, or Iran–Israel proxy war and Iran–Israel Cold War, is the ongoing proxy war between Iran and Israel. The conflict is bound in the political struggle of Iranian leadership against Israel and its declared aim to destroy the Jewish state, with the counter aim of Israel to prevent nuclear weapons being acquired by the Iranian government and downgrading its allies and proxies such as the Lebanese Hezbollah party. Iranian forces are operating in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad's government. The conflict gradually emerged from the declared hostility of post-revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran towards Israel since 1979, into covert Iranian support of Hezbollah during the South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000) and essentially developed into a proxy regional conflict from 2005. With increasing Iranian involvement in Syria from 2011, the conflict had shifted from proxy warfare into direct confrontation by early 2018.Israel suspects Tehran is pursuing the goal of forming a continuous land transport route from Iran via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, and if Tehran succeeds "it would be a strategic game-changer." According to Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, "As long as the current regime exists, with the nuclear agreement or without it, Iran will continue to serve as the main threat to Israel's security". In the Syrian Civil War, hoping to bolster its logistics and force projection capabilities in the area, Tehran aims to clear a path from the Iranian capital to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast. Israeli government is convinced that Iran is interested in creating territorial contiguity from Iran to the Mediterranean and in transferring military forces – including naval vessels, fighter planes and thousands of troops – to permanent bases in Syria and is trying to "Lebanonize" Syria and take over using Shi'ite militias, as it had done with Hezbollah in Lebanon. As Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned, "everything possible will be done to prevent the existence of a Shi'ite corridor from Tehran to Damascus". In 2017, Israeli intelligence discovered an Iranian base being built in Syria just 50 km from the Israeli border.Israel and Syria have observed a truce since Israel reaffirmed its control over most of the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, but the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, has led to several incidents of fire exchange across the once-peaceful borders. The Israeli military is reportedly preparing itself for potential threats should there be a power vacuum in Syria. "After Assad and after establishing or strengthening their foothold in Syria they are going to move and deflect their effort and attack Israel," an Israeli official told The Associated Press in January 2014. Some experts say that while the encroaching militant forces on Israel's border will heighten security measures, the advancements are not likely to create significant changes to Israel's policy disengagement in the Syria crisis.In a number of incidents over the course of the Syrian Civil War, Israel has clashed with Hezbollah and Iranian forces in the region. On several occasions, Israel was suspected of perpetrating or supporting attacks on Hezbollah and Iranian targets within Syrian territories or Lebanon. The first incident of this kind took place on 30 January 2013, when Israeli aircraft were accused of allegedly striking a Syrian convoy transporting Iranian weapons to Hezbollah. More incidents were attributed to IAF on May 2013, December 2014, April 2015. Some of those reports were confirmed by the Syrian Arab Republic, whereas others denied. Israel systematically refused to comment on alleged targeting of Hezbollah and Ba'athist Syrian targets in Syrian territory. In 2015, suspected Hezbollah militants launched an attack on Israeli forces in Shebaa farms. In March 2017, Syria launched anti-aircraft missiles towards Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, allegedly targeting Israeli IAF aircraft, which Syria claimed were on their way to attack targets in Palmyra (Syria). After the incident, the State of Israel has stated it was targeting weapons shipments headed toward anti-Israeli forces, specifically Hezbollah, located in Lebanon. Israel denied Syria's claim that one jet fighter was shot down and another damaged. Israel has not reported any pilots or aircraft missing in Syria, or anywhere else in the Middle East following the incident. According to some sources, the incident was the first time Israeli officials clearly confirmed an Israeli strike on a Hezbollah convoy during the Syrian Civil War. As of September 2017, this was the only time such confirmation was issued.
Iran claims its foreign policy is based on aiding the oppressed vulnerables around the world–not for material gains, but as a humanitarian religious positive action. In Iran's foreign policy Israel is conceptualized as a Zionist regime that threatens vulnerable people and Islamic religion itself. It is known as ideological enemy for Iran. Iran, in contact with the U.S. over the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has said that Israel would be at risk if the U.S. and its coalition sought to topple Assad. Hezbollah's 7 October 2014 attack on Israeli forces, its first declared such operation since 2006, proved the seriousness of the threat. Though the Islamic Republic of Iran has been known for its anti-Israeli stance from the very beginning, its continuous support for Hezbollah evolved into almost a direct confrontation with Israel, as Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have allegedly infiltrated Lebanon and directly supported Hezbollah during the past decade. The Hamas-dominated Gaza had also been considered a proxy of Iran.Israeli–Lebanese conflict
The Israeli–Lebanese conflict, widely referred as the South Lebanon conflict, was a series of military clashes involving Israel, Lebanon and Syria, the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as various non-state militias acting from within Lebanon.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recruited militants in Lebanon from among the families of Palestinian refugees who had been expelled or fled due to the creation of Israel in 1948. After the PLO leadership and its Fatah brigade were expelled from Jordan for fomenting a revolt, they entered Lebanon and the cross-border violence increased. Meanwhile, demographic tensions over the Lebanese National Pact led to the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon pushed the PLO north of the Litani River, but the PLO continued their campaign against Israel. Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982 and forcibly expelled the PLO. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1985, but kept control of a 12-mile security buffer zone, held with the aid of proxy militants in the South Lebanon Army (SLA). In 1985, Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia radical movement sponsored by Iran, called for armed struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory. When the Lebanese civil war ended and other warring factions agreed to disarm, Hezbollah and the SLA refused. Combat with Hezbollah weakened Israeli resolve and led to a collapse of the SLA and an Israeli withdrawal in 2000 to their side of the UN designated border. Citing Israeli control of the Shebaa farms territory, Hezbollah continued cross border attacks intermittently over the next six years. Hezbollah now sought the release of Lebanese citizens in Israeli prisons and successfully used the tactic of capturing Israeli soldiers as leverage for a prisoner exchange in 2004. The capturing of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah ignited the 2006 Lebanon War. Its ceasefire called for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the respecting of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon by Israel.
As of 2015, the situation remained generally calm, but both sides violated the ceasefire agreements; Israel by making near-daily overflights over Lebanese territory, and Hezbollah by not disarming.Kata'ib Hezbollah
Kata'ib Hezbollah (Arabic: كتائب حزب الله, Brigades of the Party of God) or Hezbollah Brigades is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group that is supported by Iran. It has been active in the Iraqi Civil War and the Syrian Civil War. During the Iraq War, the group fought against American invasion forces.Qalamoun offensive (July–August 2017)
The Qalamoun offensive (July–August 2017) was a military operation launched by Hezbollah, the Syrian Armed Forces, and later the Lebanese Armed Forces, against members of Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the Lebanon–Syria border. The Lebanese Army denied any coordination with Hezbollah or the Syrian Arab Army.Qalamoun offensive (June–August 2014)
The Qalamoun offensive (June–August 2014) was launched by the Syrian Army, in coordination with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, during the Syrian Civil War against remnant rebel forces following the previous Battle of Qalamoun which resulted in the military securing all of the towns in the region.Qalamoun offensive (May–June 2015)
The Qalamoun offensive (May–June 2015) was an offensive led by the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah, supported by the Syrian Army, during the Syrian Civil War, against the al-Nusra Front and other Syrian opposition forces entrenched in the mountains of the Qalamoun region.South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
The South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000) or the Security Zone conflict in Lebanon refers to 15 years of warfare between the Lebanese Christian proxy militias SLA with military and logistic support of Israel Defense Forces against Lebanese Muslim guerrillas led by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, within what was defined as the "Security Zone" in South Lebanon. It can also refer to the continuation of conflict in this region, beginning with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operations transfer to South Lebanon, following Black September in the Kingdom of Jordan. Historical tension between Palestinian refugees and Lebanese factions fomented the violent Lebanese internal political struggle between many different factions. In light of this, the South Lebanon conflict can be seen as a part of the Lebanese Civil War.
In earlier conflicts prior to the 1982 Israeli invasion, including Operation Litani, Israel attempted to eradicate PLO bases from Lebanon and support Christian Maronite militias. The 1982 invasion resulted in the PLO's departure from Lebanon. The creation of the Security Zone in South Lebanon benefited civilian Israelis, although at great cost to Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Despite this Israeli success in eradicating PLO bases and its partial withdrawal in 1985, the Israeli invasion increased the severity of conflict with local Lebanese militias and resulted in the consolidation of several local Shia Muslim movements in Lebanon, including Hezbollah and Amal, from a previously unorganized guerrilla movement in the south. Over the years, military casualties of both sides grew higher, as both parties used more modern weaponry, and Hezbollah progressed in its tactics. By the early 1990s, Hezbollah, with support from Syria and Iran, emerged as the leading group and military power, monopolizing guerrilla activity in South Lebanon.
By the year 2000, following an election campaign promise, newly elected Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon within the year, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, passed in 1978; the withdrawal consequently resulted in the immediate total collapse of the South Lebanon Army. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah still consider the withdrawal incomplete until Israel withdraws from Shebaa Farms. Following the withdrawal, Hezbollah has monopolized its military and civil control of the southern part of Lebanon.
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