July 27, 2006
Hezbollah Could Be
BEIRUT - The continuing Israeli bombing of south Lebanon and south Beirut might just have
The bombings appear particularly to have , the charismatic Hezbollah leader.
Hezbollah has over the years gained a strong following in Lebanon primarily on the back of its engagement in , taking on infrastructure projects, and looking after its followers. The Israeli assault is giving Hezbollah scope to gain more such power.
"These attacks show the true force of Israel," a young man told IPS at a refugee camp in a city park. "I was with Hezbollah before, but now I want to join them so I can fight the Israelis, who only want our land, and want to attack Islam."
A Hezbollah member in charge of a group of fighters in southern Beirut claimed that
"People are afraid, and in need, and we are protecting them and helping care for the refugees created by this Zionist aggression," he told IPS. " We are prepared to fight to the very end."
Support for the Hezbollah appears to be stronger among younger people. And . Ramzi Semaan, a 21-year-old Christian told IPS that
But most of the Christian population seem to blame Hezbollah. Of the 3.8 million people in Lebanon, about 60 percent are Muslims, mostly Shia, and most of the remaining 40 percent Christian.
Views on the Hezbollah fall largely, though not entirely, . Most of the large Shia population obediently follow every word of Nasrallah.
Many who have their doubts about Hezbollah still speak of their . And most agree that Hezbollah is a , and will have to be negotiated with. It is clear that there can be no peace in the region without including Hezbollah in any process toward cease-fire and further, any lasting solution.
"Israel is protecting itself because Hezbollah made their operation against her soldiers," said Fouad Rashed, a 33-year-old Christian owner of an electronics store in the capital. "Their reaction is too strong though, because now they are destroying our country."
A 50-year-old Christian, Nassan Hanin, said "Hezbollah was wrong to carry out their operation, and Israel is wrong in their extreme reaction. I'm happy that Hezbollah was hit for what they did, but this has been at too great a cost for us now."
Many who lived through the worst of the civil war in the eighties blame both.
"We can barely believe there is war here again," a 52-year-old waiter in the Hamra district of Beirut told IPS. "We thought we were finished with it 1990. I believe it was wrong for Hezbollah to kidnap the Israeli soldiers, but this level of reaction from the Israelis, of destroying all of Lebanon, is completely unjustified. It is insane."
(Inter Press Service)