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[Arab., = Party of God], Lebanese Shiite political party and militia. Founded in 1982 with Iranian help to oppose Israeli forces occupying S Lebanon, Hezbollah launched guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli forces (which were a factor in Israel's withdrawal in 2000), and mounted terror attacks on other targets inside and outside Lebanon, including the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. With strong support among religious, comparatively poor Shiites in S Lebanon the Biqa (Bekaa) valley, and Beirut's southern suburbs, and underwritten financially by Iran and individual Shiites, Hezbollah established a Shiite social-services network, including schools, hospitals, and clinics, and emerged as a major Lebanese political force; it has been led since 1992 by Hassan Nasrallah, a charismatic Shiite cleric. Supported militarily by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah's fighters used the years after Israel's withdrawal to retrain and rearm, acquiring large numbers of missiles and sophisticated equipment.

Politically part of the pro-Syrian camp in Lebanon, the party nonetheless became part of the largely anti-Syrian government established in 2005, and resisted the government's and the United Nations' call that it disarm. In 2006 a cross-border Hezbollah attack on Israeli soldiers, in which two Israelis were captured, sparked warfare (July–August) between Hezbollah militia and Israeli forces in which Hezbollah launched hundreds of missiles at Israel (many at civilian targets) and maintained a stubborn resistance against the Israeli forces that invaded S Lebanon.

Hezbollah emerged from the fighting, which it regarded as a victory, determined to claim a larger political voice in the Lebanese government, and ulitmately forced (2008) the goverment to give it and its allies veto power in the cabinet. In the 2009 elections its coalition placed second, with 45% of the vote, and subsequently again served in a national unity government. Denouncing a joint UN-Lebanon investigation into Prime Minister Rafik HaririHariri, Rafik or Rafiq
, 1944–2005, Lebanese tycoon and political leader, b. Sidon. The son of a poor Sunni Muslim farmer, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1965.
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's assassination, which ultimately indicted four Hezbollah members, the party and its allies withdrew from the government in 2011; they were part of a new government formed in July. Hezbollah has provided training and other support, including several thousand fighters, to Syrian government forces in the Syrian civil war.


See study by T. Cambanis (2011).

References in periodicals archive ?
It said the Israelis were warning that, in the event of another conflict with Hizbullah, "many Lebanese civilians will probably be killed, and that it should not be considered Israel's fault".
In the last decade, Hizbullah has indeed traditionally not used arms against its main opponent.
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has announced that the party's anti-spy apparatus had arrested three Hizbullah members, two were found to be working for the CIA and the third was working for an undetermined European intelligence agency or probably the Israeli Mossad agency.
According to the source, other resolutions, of which Hizbullah is critical, include UNSCR 1757 which established the controversial Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) which is currently probing the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Majdalani aslo suggested that Hizbullah moved its operations to Egypt and Bahrain to pave the way for Iran' s intervention in the Arab affairs, assuring that these kinds of (tactics) are not acceptable.
The probe established to find the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri -- who was assassinated in a 2005 car bomb attack which killed 22 others -- has said it will deliver indictments to a pre-trial judge "very soon" and there are fears of civil unrest if individuals from Hizbullah are named in arrest warrants.
The prisoner exchange negotiations between Hizbullah and Israel--the third between the two parties since 1996--has its roots in Israel's refusal to release over a dozen Lebanese detainees after withdrawing from South Lebanon.
More importantly, it is alleged that Hamas has received $30 million from Iran after signing an agreement at Qum in Iran to de-legitimize the PLO and to coordinate Hamas's military activities with those of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has also been criticized for acting like a "Syrian television presenter," prompting his party to adopt a more low-key approach.
Commenting on the release by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) of long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants against four Hizbullah members in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Sateh Noureddin, managing editor of the leftist newspaper AS SAFIR, said in his column on Friday, "Is it the end to the search for the truth in the assassination of [former] Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, or the beginning of a long and arduous road toward justice which can endure a lot of compromises from outside the halls of the international tribunal?
Punitive measures were also taken against an alleged Hizbullah operative in South America.