Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Hezbollah from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Extremist Muslim organization founded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who were sent to Lebanon after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Its aim is to spread the Islamic revolution of Iran among the Shiite population of Lebanon. Hezbollah is believed to be the umbrella movement of the groups that held many of the Western hostages taken from 1984.

In 1996 Hezbollah guerrillas, opposed to the Middle East peace process, engaged in renewed hostilities with Israeli forces stationed in southern Lebanon.

Summary Article: Hezbollah
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

[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 Hariri'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).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Hizballah (Hezbollah) (a.k.a. Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Party of God, Lebanese Hizballah)
Encyclopedia of Terrorism

This group, formed in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon, is a radical Shia organization with ideological inspiration drawn from the I

Full text Article 27 April 1996
The Hutchinson Chronology of World History

Subject: wars Area: Israel, Lebanon A ceasefire suspends fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah (extremist Muslim) terrorists based in Leban

Full text Article Nasrallah, Hassan
The Columbia Encyclopedia

(hä'sӘn näsrä'lä), 1960–, Lebanese political and religious leader. A Shiite Muslim cleric, he became politically active in the 1970s and joined the

See more from Credo