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Hizbollah

HIZBOLLAH

HIZBOLLAH (Arab. "Party of God"), Lebanese Shiite-Muslim movement and militia based mainly in the southern suburbs of Beirut, in Balbek in the Biqa, and in South Lebanon. It was founded during the *Lebanon War of 1982, emerging out of a loose coalition of radical Shiite groups. Inspired by the Islamic Revolution in *Iran and originally aspiring to set up a similar Islamic state in Lebanon as an alternative to the existing multicultural state, it abandoned this goal in the early 1990s and ostensibly became part of the Lebanese political system, participating in parliamentary elections and maintaining a bloc of around 10 parliamentary representatives. Never disarmed by the weak Lebanese government and sponsored by Iran, it became a virtual state within a state, launching violent attacks against American and Israeli targets. Under its charismatic leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (1953– ) and as the self-proclaimed champion of Arab resistance to the Israeli occupation, it began stockpiling thousands of Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets and building an extensive tactical infrastructure during a six-year lull in hostilities during the 2000s, until the illusion of tranquility was shattered in summer 2006. For a summary of the renewed hostilities, see *Israel, State of: Historical Survey; for a detailed review of Israel's war against terrorism, see *Israel, State of: Israel Defense Forces ("The War against Terrorism"). See also *Lebanon; *Lebanon War.

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