Dahr Jamail: Hezbollah Rides a New Popularity


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 15:24:54 +0300
From: •••@••.•••
Subject: Hezbollah Rides a New Popularity

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com **

      Hezbollah Rides a New Popularity

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail

*BEIRUT, Aug 7 (IPS) - As the war in Lebanon approaches the one-month mark, and 
amid the destruction of much of Lebanon, Hezbollah appears to be gaining 
strength within the country and around the Arab world.*

The Israeli aim of widespread bombing of the Lebanese infrastructure in order to
create resentment against Hezbollah seems to have played into the strengths of 

Hezbollah, known in many western countries as a "terrorist organisation", is 
widely seen in Lebanon as a legitimate political and social power.

One reason for this, according to an official representative of Hezbollah and 
member of the Lebanese Parliament, is that Hezbollah has never aimed to turn 
Lebanon into an Islamic state.

"Hezbollah is a democratic party whose principles are based on the Lebanese 
constitution," Tarad Hamade told IPS. "This means we have to respect the 
cultural and religious diversity in the country. We have never intended to 
establish an Islamic state."

Hamade, who is also labour minister, said: "Israel wants to terrorise the 
country and inflict as much damage as possible. They call us terrorists, at the 
same time as they are exercising state terrorism. Are they not terrorists?"

More and more Lebanese are beginning to hold this view.

Lebanese see the destruction by Israelis all around them. The damage to the 
civilian infrastructure will cost billions of dollars to fix.

All three of Lebanon's airports and all four of its ports have been bombed. 
Damage done to houses and businesses is estimated at above a billion dollars. At
least 22 fuel and gas stations have been bombed. Scores of factories have been 
damaged or destroyed.

Red Cross ambulances, government emergency centres, UN peacekeeping forces and 
observers, media outlets and mobile phone towers have been bombed -- all in 
violation of international law.

Mosques and churches have been bombed, and illegal weapons such as cluster bombs
and white phosphorous used. More than 90 percent of those killed, close to 1,000
according to official estimates, are civilians.

The result is that rather than pressuring Hezbollah by destroying Lebanon, 
Israel has increased popular support for the group, and brought the wishes of 
most Lebanese more in line with the stated goals of Hezbollah to keep Israel at 

With Hezbollah engaged in at least 60 percent of the relief efforts in Lebanon, 
the kind of work that gave it power in the first place is now only increasing 
its popularity.

Israel could also have fallen for the military strategy of Hezbollah. Hezbollah 
would like nothing more than to engage the Israeli military in a guerrilla war 
in southern Lebanon - and this has begun already now that Israeli troops are in 
the south, and suffering casualties.

Hamade says Hezbollah's stated demands for a ceasefire are simple and have 
remained unchanged since the beginning of the conflict.

"There can only be ceasefire if Israel stops firing as soon as possible, accepts
an exchange of prisoners and leaves Lebanon." But more than 10,000 Israeli 
troops now occupy parts of southern Lebanon, widespread air strikes continue, 
and Israel refuses a prisoner exchange.

IPS recently interviewed a Hezbollah fighter who asked to be called "Ahmed". The
Israeli aggression has only made him a more determined fighter.

"I care about my people, my country, and I'm defending them from the 
aggression," he said. "My home now in Dahaya (southern Beirut) is in ruins. 
Everything in my life is destroyed now, so I will fight them."

Like most followers of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Ahmed said: "We are 
all with him. He has given us belief and hope that we can push the Zionists out 
of Lebanon, and keep them out forever. He has given me purpose."

He added: "We are like the French resistance against the Nazis."

Mohamed Slaibi, a 21-year-old business student at the American University of 
Beirut (AUB), said that he has never supported Hezbollah, but he now feels it is
their right to defend Lebanon.

"And now I feel betrayed by America," Slaibi said. "The U.S. supports Israel 100
percent in everything they do. Even though my dream was to go to the U.S., and I
study at AUB, now I hate the Americans for supporting Israel."

This is just the kind of sentiment that Israel did not want to provoke. And it 
has been caused by the extent of the Israeli aggression. In the past Israeli 
attacks were aimed primarily at Hezbollah, but now all Lebanese people are 

It is well known that Hezbollah enjoys strong political support from Syria and 
Iran, and likely receives arms and munitions from those countries, but more than
ever it is enjoying the support of the Lebanese people.

And it certainly seems to have resources. "Some of it is donations from the 
Lebanese people," Hamade said. "Some of it is revenues from companies 
established by Hezbollah. In addition, Muslims pay 'Zaqaat' (a voluntary 
donation for the cause of religion). The arms we can buy on the market. There is
an endless supply of arms."

Hezbollah can of course not match Israel in weaponry. "We might not be as 
powerful as the Israeli army but we will fight until we die," Hamade said.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.

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