By Tim Ballingall
1982 Arab-Israeli War
In June 1982, Shlomo Argov, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, was shot in the head on a London street. He survived, though the event would be likened to the assassination of Prince Franz Ferdinand.
The attempted assassination was orchestrated by the Abu Nidal Organization, a terrorist nationalist group in Lebanon. Abu Nidal was formerly a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, but after 1974, when its leader, Yasser Arafat suggested a diplomatic two-state, Arab-Israeli compromise, Nidal and other right-wingers broke from the PLO.
Three days after the attempted assassination, the Israel Defense Force invaded Lebanon. Retaliation was quickly exceeded when Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Minister of Defense, ordered troops into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
In a three-day period, between 800 and 1,500 Palestinian citizens were massacred. The Kahan Commission, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International called for investigation.
The war would drag on for another eighteen years.
A Youth Movement
On February 16, 1982, just months before the IDF invasion, Shiek Ibrahim al-Amin published the Hezbollah manifesto, declaring the organization’s chief objective as the expulsion of the American, French, and Israeli presence in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, or Hizb Allah (“Party of God”), is a Lebanese Shia Muslim militant/political group backed by Iran and Syria. This group’s ideology has been strongly influenced by Ayatollah Khomeini, the former Supreme Leader of Iran. The original cadres of Hezbollah were trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The United States officially deems Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Britain and other European countries call for a slight distinction between the political center and the violent extremity. Political leaders like Hassan Nasrallah, the current Secretary General who assumed power following the assassination of Abbas al-Musawi on Feb. 16, 1992, though they do not directly participate, do indirectly support terrorism.
Adam Shatz of the New York Times says Hezbollah is much more than a guerrilla-warfare resistance movement:
“It is now a virtual state-within-a-state, with an army of several thousand men, an extensive social service network, a popular satellite television station called al-Manar (“the Beacon of Light”), and an annual budget in excess of $100 million.”
And yet, Hezbollah organized the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 servicemen, the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight, and, allegedly, numerous kidnappings and assassinations of American citizens.
The 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon began as a dispute over hostage exchange. Hezbollah had captured two Israeli soldiers to exchange for Hezbollah prisoners in Israeli jails. The fighting lasted through July and into August. The war proved devastating but with mixed-results as stated in the Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice:
“Besides the infrastructure destruction, Israel’s bombing killed an estimated 1,500 civilians, including women and children, with about 70 Hezbollah fighters killed. In return, Hezbollah killed approximately 43 Israeli civilians and 114 Iraeli soldiers. Almost a million Lebanese civilians were displaced, while about half a million Israeli citizens were displaced. Lebanon suffered an estimated $3 billion in damages, with Israel at an estimated $1 billion.”