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The Influence of Hezbollah and Hamas in the Middle East

Updated on October 30, 2014

History of Hezbollah

The terrorist group of Hezbollah has been a pervading influence in disrupting any civil discussion of peace within the Lebanese area. The group itself lacks a state of its own or a way to identify themselves. They are also the first terrorist group to use religion to justify violence.

The term "Hezbollah" means "The Party of God", which accentuates the fact that many organized criminal groups are using their faith as a means to conduct violence.

Hezbollah is made up of Lebanese Shiite muslims. They made their first appearance in the world in 1982, as they regressed from isolated suicide bombings to hijacking airplanes.

Throughout this time, Hezbollah has earned the infamous title of being masters of violence, having zero diplomacy to speak of, with the sole intent of causing chaos and disruption. None of what they do is considered strategic in any way.

The prevalence of Hezbollah presents three difficult questions: Under what sociological circumstances did Hezbollah have to resort to violence? What did they intend to achieve by their use of violence? And finally: What were the effects on political outcomes in their native land of Lebanon?

In this hub, I will address the true intent of this terrorist group, as well as, what the political group Hamas has also attempted to accomplish.

Hezbollah considers themselves "The Party of God", and has an infamous reputation of being masters of violence.
Hezbollah considers themselves "The Party of God", and has an infamous reputation of being masters of violence. | Source

Hezbollah and Lebanon

The history of Lebanon is actually more important than the history of Shiite muslim fanatics like Hezbollah. This is because Shiite muslims acted in rebellion to what was happening in their native Lebanon region.

There are three main ethnicity groups in Lebanon: Maronite Christians, Sunni Muslims- who were typically educated in Beirut and are considered assimilated into Western culture, and finally- the Shiite Muslims.

Shiite muslims mainly lived in southern Lebanon, which is often considered the worst part of the country to be from economically. There was a time where these three groups were able to coexist, but due to heavy urbanization in the 70's and 80's, the economic disparity increased, and by extension, so did the animosity between the groups.

Everybody in Lebanon evolved culturally except for the Shiite muslims.

Heavy Population Growth of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon

From 1921 to 1956, the Shiite population grew from 100,000 to 250,000 people, but still only remained 19% of the nation's population. From 1956 to 1975, the Shiite population tripled from 250,000 to over 750,000 people which now made them over 30% of the nation's population.

The Shiite population boom was beginning to shape Lebanese influence. People became concerned because this specific demographic of people had no political power, no economic power, yet fiercely held on to fundamental Islamic viewpoints.


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Civil War in Lebanon

In 1975, Civil War broke out in Lebanon. At the time, Shiite Muslims formed a group called Amal, which is Arabic for "Hope". This was the first political association directly connected to the Shiite Muslims.

During this Civil War, hundreds and thousands of Shiite Muslims became refugees. In 1976, Israel invaded southern Lebanon displacing about 250,000 more Shiites into dilapidated ghettos on the outskirts of the city of Beirut. The newly found Amal organization could not provide for, or contain any of the refugees.

Lebanese Shiites by its neighboring Maronite Christian neighbors put the Shiites on the defense. That, coupled with the U.S. military intervention of displaced Shiite muslims living in the slums of Beirut, gave birth to the Hezbollah terrorist group.

An Israeli truck that intentionally struck and killed innocent Palestinians in December 1987 marked the beginning of the First Intifada.
An Israeli truck that intentionally struck and killed innocent Palestinians in December 1987 marked the beginning of the First Intifada. | Source

The Rise of Hamas

In addition to Hezbollah, a separate group was formed to challenge the status quo in Palestine. Hamas, which stands for "The Islamic Resistance Movement", was formed in 1988 as a direct response to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Members of Hamas were also fundamentalist muslims who felt the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, was far too modern.

The fundamental nature of Hamas was the duality in its identity of being a worshiper and a warrior. This approach made them popular with the masses in Palestine. In addition to this, Hamas allocated almost all of its resources to social services without conditions of political support. In the end, the goal of Hamas targeted people's well being.

In comparison to Hezbollah, Hamas is considered more nationalistic then fanatically religious.

Stock Footage of the First Intifada

The Origins of Hamas

On December 8, 1987, an Israeli truck struck and killed four innocent Palestinians. This set in place what was called the, "First Intifada" . At the time, there was a centrally based Islamic center in Palestine that focused on political ideas in the area, as well as, extracurricular activities around Islamic mosques and addressed the health and well-being of all Palestinian muslims. At the time, this Islamic center was supported by Israel.

This truck accident sent things into motion regarding continual civil unrest in Palestine. The Islamic Center was slow to react to this truck accident and, for whatever reason, Israel began arresting communists in the area of Palestine at the same time as the truck accident. The ambiguity of this truck accident, the slow reaction of the Islamic Center, which had been supported by Israel, and Israel suddenly arresting people seemed incredibly suspicious.

In August 1988, Hamas was officially established. The main calling of Hamas was that peace in the Middle East does not work, and in order to liberate Palestine completely, Hamas must perform Jihad.

Hamas is an organization based on an Islamic advisory council- they were not just another terrorist group. Hamas has no formal religious association, or no modern structure. In their minds, religion comes second the the well-being of Palestine.

The primary goal of Hamas is to reclaim Palestine as their own land, similar to what the Irish Republican Army conducted under Sinn Fein.

Another primary goal of Hamas is to permanently rid themselves of Israeli occupiers in Palestine.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited Gaza in 2000 to address the area's civil unrest.  During the time, jobs held by Hamas in secular society were eradicated by Israel.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited Gaza in 2000 to address the area's civil unrest. During the time, jobs held by Hamas in secular society were eradicated by Israel. | Source

*Hamas feels that "Peace does not work"

*Hezbollah, in translation, literally means "Party of God"

*Hezbollah is the first group to use religion to justify violence

*Hamas was founded in August of 1988 after Israel killed innocent Palestinians

*In September 2000, Ariel Sharon stripped Hamas members working in secular society of their jobs

Final Thoughts

A compelling component of all the civil unrest in Palestine and (to a lesser extent) Lebanon, is that not one group is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, including Israel. Situations like this rely on nationalism and religious fanaticism to convery powerful messages of inequality.

In the case of Hezbollah, they prefer more of a psychological display of war tactics, while Hamas uses brute force to get its point across.

But the message is the same- until everybody involved puts down their weapons and agrees to speak civilly on peace in the area, nothing will change here.

At the time Hamas and Hezbollah surfaced, the Palestine and Lebanon area was already extremely dangerous. Despite their best intentions, the actions of both groups have simply exacerbated the situation.

However, this does not diminish the urgency to make an effort by any means, to have all warring factions assemble and discuss some form of peace strategy.

The dystopia in this area is so profound now, any slight move on either side would be extremely beneficial.

At this point, it is safe to say that the area of Palestine will never be united as one complete and sovereign nation like Lebanon is- with all demographics catering to the other's needs. The only truthful fact now is that violence pervades the area and no one seems to want to negotiate. Once a truce is called- only then, will there be any hope for reconciliation.


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    • Justin McLean profile imageAUTHOR

      Justin McLean 

      4 years ago from Fernandina Beach. FL

      I conquer Ali. I have never been there, but this is just information and research I've done through the years. The last thing I want to do is patronize the situation in Palestine and none of my research came through any media outlet. I appreciate your feedback. It's almost stupid of me to think I can relate to the severity of the situation there, but from an outsider's perspective, there is not one innocent party involved including Israel. The gist of what I'm saying is that due to the complex nature of what is happening there, any resolution seems far from a reality. Thanks for holding me accountable, but all my research was from valid academic resources. In the future, I will absolutely be more diligent regarding the exact specifics of any situation I write about. Thanks for your concern.

    • Ali Almudhry profile image

      Ali Almudhry 

      4 years ago

      Have you ever been to Palestine? Do you really know what Hezbollah's goals are? Have you ever thought about the risk that these people are taking at least trying to safe Palestine? Unlike others who pretend like they care about Palestine, and did nothing though out these past years. Stop believing the things that the media broadcast. Look closely to what really happening out there, go visit Palestine and you might get the real idea of what's really going on. I really respect the idea that you looking at such thing trying to make a different in Palestine and make it a better place; however, posting a wrong idea of what really happing out there, is not gonna help.


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