Hizb Allah Rally marking Jerusalem Day
The Lebanese Resistance, spanning a number of groups and religious affiliations, was born in this climate and context. For years Lebanese villagers and residents were punished for successful guerrilla operations that killed Israeli allied militia men, or Israeli soldiers, inside a self-declared ‘Security Zone’ in South Lebanon.
Hizb Allah (Arabic for Party of God) the most active and disciplined of the resistance groups that emerged out of the rubble of ’82, did not have static bases or headquarters in the zone occupied by Israel. Its fighters came from the South and knew the land’s contours like they knew one anothers’ faces. Slipping in from different parts of the country, in small groups using cars, motorcycles or even donkey carts, they would execute operations and slip out again on safe routes.
Towns and villages, presumed enemy strongholds by Israel, were repeatedly shelled over the occupation years. Every Southerner was under suspicion of collaborating for the other side. Tobacco farmers and lone shepherds drifting across the hills and lowland with their flocks, were suspected by Israel’s allied southern militia of being the eyes and ears of the Resistance. As were fearless teenagers, hunting in the steep-sided wadis, killing time.
Movement perceived as remotely suspicious was a high-risk target for interrogation or new weapons technologies being tested in the field. Thousands of ordinary Lebanese were abducted by Israel's trained and paid local militia over the years, to be tortured, indefinitely detained or enlisted in SLA allied ranks.
A sizable minority of southern residents refused to leave the war zone. During large-scale military operations in 1982, ’93 and ’96, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese became refugees in their homeland, heading north where some stayed put. But the more their homes were destroyed, the more others stubbornly remained. Hizb Allah was also a social network that rebuilt homes and local businesses, founded schools and clinics and paid pensions to families of the dead and martyred. All this in areas of Lebanon that had long been economically deprived and underdeveloped by the government in Beirut.
Since Resistance fighters were so hard to identify or pin down, Israel turned to the only other target easier to paint. Any lifeline or resource belonging to local residents that could also be used by the fighters.
It was little wonder that Muqawimeen like Rida were viewed, across Lebanon’s religious divide, as heroes of the battered Middle East. For here was the peoples' own rapid-response power, that deterred and defied the world’s fourth most advanced and the Middle East's strongest Army.
(...........Read Next Chapter: Q&A under the Rain..........)