Hezbollah flag. Trans. “Then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant/The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.”
Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamic organization, has evolved over the last three decades from a guerilla movement to the most influential political and military power in Lebanon.
Given that Hezbollah is a crucial part of the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance”, it is not surprising that the mainstream media in the West uses simplistic stereotypes to demonize it. However, whether the West likes it or not, Hezbollah is clearly fated to continue playing an important role in Lebanon’s future.
The purpose of this quiz is to understand the roots and evolution of Hezbollah, a sophisticated organization that effectively combines pragmatism and militancy, social services and religious faith.
The Hezbollah quiz
1. Did Hezbollah exist before June 1982?
2. Did Hezbollah exist after June 1982?
3. What precipitated Hezbollah’s creation?
“Israel invaded Lebanon on June 5, 1982, following an eleven-month cease-fire with the PLO, which Israel claimed had been broken by the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom…It made little difference to the Israelis that the assassination had been carried out by a renegade Palestinian group [which was] a blood foe of the PLO. The invasion gave Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli defense minister, carte blanche to pursue his own dream of destroying the PLO as a political force in the region and putting in place a pliant government in Beirut that would become the second Arab state, after Egypt, to enter into a formal peace agreement with Israel. Within the Israeli government at the time—as within the American foreign policy establishment—there was little understanding of the developments under way among the Shi’i Muslims of Lebanon and no analysis was made of the impact of this invasion on them. Even if Israel had not launched its invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, the young would-be revolutionaries among the Shi’a would have pursued their path of emulating Iran’s Islamic revolution. Undoubtedly, however, the invasion pushed the Shi’a further in this direction, creating conditions for the establishment and flourishing of Hezbollah.” (Augustus Richard Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History, Princeton University Press, Princeton: 2007, 33. Hereinafter referred to as, Norton.)
“Iran and Syria share credit for sponsoring [Hezbollah]…although Iran certainly played the leading role. For Iran, the creation of Hezbollah was a realization of the revolutionary state’s zealous campaign to spread the message of the self-styled ‘Islamic revolution.’ From Syria’s standpoint, the new militant Shi’i party was a fortuitous instrument for preserving Syrian interests: supporting Hezbollah allowed Syria to maintain its alliance with Iran, gain the means for striking indirectly at both Israel and the United States, and keep its Lebanese allies, including the Amal movement, in line.” (Norton, 34-5.)
“From where had this Shia surge sprung? For a millennium or more…Shia Muslims had struggled, with a few rare historical exceptions, on the margins of politics and wars. Their…senior jurists espoused the dogma of quietism…By the turn of the twentieth century, Shia thinkers had begun to question quietism” and thus argued that Shia should not resign themselves to passivity and injustice. (Thanassis Cambanis, A Privilege To Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, Free Press, New York: 2010, 101-2. Hereinafter referred to as, Cambanis.)
For more information on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and for a more extensive version of this quiz, go here.
4. Who said the following? “When we entered Lebanon [in June 1982]…there was no Hezbollah. We were accepted with perfumed rice and flowers by the Shia in the south. It was our presence there that created Hezbollah.”
Ehud Barak: Prime minister of Israel from 1999 – 2001 and current Minister of Defense. (Another Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, made the same point in 1987.) (Norton, 33.)
Israel had expected the Shiites to greet them with tolerance; and, “thanks to their prior hostility to the Palestinians, most Shiites did at first manifest a kind of ‘positive indifference’ towards the Israelis….But this reception did not last very long….It was Israel itself that changed the Shiites, which turned rice and flowers [tossed mainly by southern Maronites] into grenades and home-made bombs. [While the Shiites had not been Israel’s main target] they had nonetheless suffered more than any other community if only because, as inhabitants of the South, they stood directly in its path. Mainly theirs were the villages—nearly 80 per cent of them—that were damaged or destroyed, theirs the majority of the 20,000 killed.” (David Hirst, Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East, Nation Books, New York: 2010, 197-9. Hereinafter referred to as, Hirst.)
From 1985 until its withdrawal in 2000, Israel maintained its ‘security zone’ in southern Lebanon which comprised 10 per cent of all Lebanese territory and 6 percent of its people. The Israelis set up a 2,000-man South Lebanese Army (SLA) that was overwhelmingly Maronite-officered, and Israeli ‘advisers’ in the security zone to oversee it. “”If the situation in the South quieted, as it did periodically, Israeli officials held up the zone as a success that could not be safely terminated. When the situation became hotter, the zone became a necessity. [Hezbollah officials reasonably argued] that, without effective…resistance…Israel would have little incentive to consider withdrawing…” (The Egyptians in 1973 and the Palestinians in 1987 came to the same conclusion.) (Norton, 81.)
Israel’s general strategy in Lebanon from 1985 to 2000 was two-fold: “militarily to smash the guerillas themselves, their bases and their personnel; politically to persuade the Lebanese state and people, by punishing them too, to turn against Hizbullah, and then to make a final peace with Israel independently of Syria.” For an example of civilians being punished, consider Israel’s 1996 “Grapes of Wrath” campaign which caused “some 500,000” Lebanese to flee north. During the 16-day campaign “25,132 artillery rounds and 2,350 air sorties” resulted in killing only thirteen Hizbollah fighters. “Once again…it was Lebanese civilians who bore the brunt; 165 died, compared with not one Israeli, military or civilian.” (Hirst, 249, 257-8.)
5. Who wrote the following in 1954? “It is clear that Lebanon is the weakest link in the Arab League…[The Christians] are a majority in historical Lebanon and this majority has a tradition and a culture different from those other components of the Arab League…The creation of a Christian state is therefore a natural act…It seems to me that this is the central duty…of our foreign policy. We must act in all possible ways to bring about a radical change in Lebanon…”
Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, was expressing his hope to capitalize on tensions that existed in the Middle East at the time to promote a grand design for Lebanon. “On this occasion Sharett [the foreign minister] prevailed: there was no attack on Lebanon…But the idea of one would not go away. In May…1955, Ben-Gurion once again demanded that something be done about Lebanon….Dayan leapt to his support and…outlined a plan by which it should actually be carried out: ‘[T]he only thing that’s necessary is to find an officer…We should either win his heart or buy him with money, to make him agree to declare himself the saviour of the Maronite population. Then the Israeli army will enter Lebanon, will occupy the necessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel. The territory from the Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel…'” This plan by Dayan eerily anticipated Israel’s 1982 war on Lebanon. (Hirst, 65-6.)
6. Why did Israel withdraw from Lebanon in 2000?
Hezbollah’s resistance operations against Israel were relentless and effective. From “an average of about 200 a year before 1996” such operations rose to “1,000 a year thereafter, peaking at 1,500 in 1999-2000.” Hezbollah lost 1,248 men between the 1982 invasion and 1999; while the Israelis, between 1985 and 1999, lost 332. And the trend favored Hezbollah. “There was only one way the ‘slow bleeding’…could be staunched, and that was to get out…” Israel would “do what it had never done before—relinquish Arab territory it had conquered and occupied for nothing in return.” (Hirst, 263-5.)
In 2006, “Israeli Brigadier General Guy Zur…described Hezbollah as ‘by far the greatest guerrilla group in the world’…” (Norton, 140.)
7. After Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, what was Hezbollah’s policy toward Lebanese who had collaborated with Israel?
When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, “it left behind thousands of collaborators, including men who had beaten and tortured Hezbollah fighters on behalf of the Israelis. Nasrallah ordered his followers to keep their hands off all collaborators, leaving their judgment to Lebanese courts.” In fact, following the withdrawal “there was a remarkable degree of calm….Overall, that time will be remembered as a remarkably orderly and humane period, especially when measured against the history of internecine violence that scarred Lebanon for much of the preceding few decades.” (Cambanis, 5; Norton, 89-90.)
Hezbollah’s decency and efficiency “was so remarkable that those whom much of the world still looked upon as ‘terrorists’…now earned a grudging respect in unfamiliar quarters, including European officialdom…” (Hirst, 267.)
8. During the period between the Israeli withdrawal of May 2000 and the war in July 2006, how many Israeli civilians were killed by Hezbollah?
One. However, “Nine Israeli soldiers died in Hezbollah attacks in the contested [Shebaa] farms area,” a disputed territory in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that is recognized to belong to Lebanon, “and eight others were killed in six clashes along the ‘Blue Line’ demarcated by the UN after Israel’s withdrawal. Some of the attacks were in retaliation for Israeli-caused deaths in Lebanon….Generally, however, this six-year period was relatively quiet…and this was frequently commented on by Israeli officials prior to the summer of 2006.” (Norton, 91.)
From 2000 to 2006, the great bulk of Katyusha rocket firings into Israel proper, according to Israeli sources, came from Palestinian fedayeen not Hezbollah. (Norton, 92.)
9. What was the “pretext” for Israel’s 12 July 2006 invasion of Lebanon? What was the “context”?
“Since Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah and Israel had clashed sporadically….Nasrallah had said again and again that Hezbollah’s primary military goal was to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel and the return of Lebanese dead. The way forward, he said, was to seize Israeli captives and trade them.” On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah commandos succeeded in capturing Israeli soldiers; the commandos had tried similar raids in the past without success. Nasrallah expected that Israel’s response would be similar to past experience however Israel exploited the operation to justify its 2006 invasion. (Cambanis, 63.)
Hezbollah had negotiated a January 2004 prisoner exchange with Israel. And, “when its fighters attacked an Israeli army unit on July 12, 2006, and captured two soldiers, Hezbollah announced it would exchange them for…Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Israel.” (Assaf Kfoury editor, Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky, Monthly Review Press, New York: 2007, 97. Hereinafter referred to as, Kfoury.)
The context of Israel’s invasion was clear. The desire within Israel’s “leadership to have it out with Hezbollah increased markedly in 2005 and early 2006.” Israeli officials had had to endure “Hezbollah’s taunting ever since their unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000″ and thus desired to reestablish their deterrence power in the eyes of Hamas and Hezbollah in particular.” (Norton, 133.)
“In leaked testimony to the Winograd Committee investigating Israel’s mismanagement of the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the war had been carefully planned at least four months ahead of time…” (Kfoury, 157.)
“In confidential discussions with the White House, Israel promised President Bush a ‘quick and decisive result’ that would end with Hezbollah’s demise.” (Norton, 139.)
10. True or False: Human Rights Watch reported that it found no evidence that Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect its fighters from retaliatory Israeli attack.
Hezbollah, as Nasrallah admitted on a 21 July 2006 broadcast, underestimated Israel’s grossly disproportionate attack: “strikes on roads, bridges, [hospitals, schools, densely populated areas,] seaports and airports throughout Lebanon…” “Even a member of [Tony Blair’s] cabinet, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Howell, was moved to declare, during a visit to Beirut, that it was ‘very, very difficult to understand the kind of military tactics that have been used [by Israel]…You know, if [you’re] chasing Hizbullah, then go for Hizbullah. You don’t go for the entire Lebanese nation…'” (Norton, 135, 138; Hirst, 360-1.)
11. True or False: Just before the launch of the July 2006 Lebanon War, Israel’s Chief of Staff Dan Halutz instructed his stockbroker to sell certain investments that were likely to be negatively affected by the war.
True. (Hirst, 345.)
“Within a few months [of the end of the war]…Halutz and key commanders had resigned in disgust or disgrace; the reputation of the Israeli army, most sacrosanct of institutions, fell to an unprecedented low.” (Hirst, 381.)
12. True or False: Saudi Arabia supported Hezbollah during the 2006 war.
False. Saudi Arabia voiced “quick disapproval of Hezbollah’s actions…and Jordan, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates followed suit. The Sunni Arab governments were understandably apprehensive about the rising profile of the Shi’ite power Iran in the Arab world, the emergence of a Shi’i-dominated government in…Iraq, and the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon. All these forces might well inspire domestic opposition forces in their own countries, especially as Hezbollah gained enthusiastic support even among the vast Sunni population of the Arab world [as it provided the only effective opposition to Israel].” (Norton, 136.)
“Many secular Arabs, Sunni Muslims, Christians—forces for moderation who had suffered at the strengthening arms of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas ‘Resistance Axis’—yearned for a death blow to Nasrallah’s movement. But as the arc of Israel’s punishment expanded, the outrage toward Hezbollah subsided to a chirp. After Qana it fell silent completely.” The “Israeli bombing of Qana on July 30,” that resulted in the deaths of “twenty-eight civilians,” ended the “support for Israel’s campaign in” Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt due to “the heat of public outrage.” In Saudi Arabia, for example, “by late July, public expressions of solidarity with the Lebanese and Hezbollah were expressed by Saudi officials, albeit grudgingly.” (Cambanis, 81; Norton, 140, 149.)
“Across the Arab and Islamic world people on the street began hoisting Hassan Nasrallah’s portrait into the air. Here was a leader who resonated like no one had since Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 or Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s.” Hezbollah had shown that resistance, not the accommodation of states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, worked against Israel. And, as all Arabs knew, “in 1967 Israel had vanquished all the Arab armies in six days, but in 2006 they had fought thirty-four days and failed to take control of a thin sliver of South Lebanon [despite a massive ground offensive of some 30,000 troops in the last two days of the war].” (Cambanis, 119, 120, 122.)
For the confluence of interests of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel, see the Saudi Arabia Quiz here.
13. Does Hezbollah receive substantial support from Iran?
While much of the funding for Hezbollah’s extensive “social and medical infrastructure is raised domestically…Hezbollah…receives significant subsidies from Iran. The amounts are often estimated at $100 million a year…A significant portion of Iranian support is for Hezbollah’s militia wing.” (Norton, 110.)
“Nasrallah [makes] no apologies for his party’s links to Tehran and Damascus, publicly thanking Hezbollah’s patrons in speech after speech.” In fact, “Every Lebanese faction [has] received money, weapons, and political cover from foreign powers [such as Saudi Arabia, the CIA and Israel].” (Cambanis, 113, 182.)
Hezbollah’s capacity for force that has made the party so important depends almost entirely on Iran and Syria, not just financially but logistically. According to Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, “The fall of the Baath regime in Syria would leave Hizbullah high and dry. Its rockets and other weapons, and some of its communications and code-breaking abilities, depended on Syrian help….The downside of any weakening of Hizbullah is that it could encourage Israeli expansionism in South Lebanon, as in the 1980s and 1990s (Israel’s leaders have long wanted to steal the water in south Lebanon’s rivers).” (http://www.juancole.com/2012/07/top-ten-implications-of-the-damascus-bombing.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+juancole%2Fymbn+%28Informed+Comment%29)
As a mature organization, “Hezbollah is no mere proxy, and seems to enjoy something closer to the status of a junior partner or favored ally with Tehran.” “The speed with which Hezbollah [has] attacked, counterattacked, and improvised during clashes with Israel [makes] clear the local command in Lebanon [makes] its own decisions.” (Cambanis, 223.)
Iran’s assistance to Hezbollah is dwarfed by US assistance to Israel. According to the 12 March 2012 US Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $115 billion in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance…” (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf)
14. Is the following an official Hezbollah statement? “Israel’s final departure from Lebanon is a prelude to its final obliteration from existence and the liberation of venerable Jerusalem from the talons of occupation.”
The statement is part of Hezbollah’s 1985 open letter addressed to the “Downtrodden in Lebanon and in the World.” “There have been periodic hints from leading Hezbollah officials, including Nasrallah…, that the 1985 open letter is obsolete” and belongs “to a certain historical moment that” has passed. In any event, despite what it may wish, Hezbollah cannot destroy Israel. (Norton, 39, 46.)
In the “modern Middle East racist attitudes thrive even among populations that coexist peacefully…Whether sincerely or not, [Hezbollah] has excised hatred of Jews from its official doctrine….[However,] Hezbollah’s updated manifesto declares Israel ‘an unnatural creation that is not viable and cannot continue to survive.'” (Cambanis, 9-10.)
“It [Hezbollah] will wage unyielding war against Israel as long as that approach expands its power base. If war with Israel were to become more costly, or if by some change in circumstances it endangered Iranian support, Hezbollah could shift its focus to other enemies.” (Cambanis, 227.)
When asked whether he “was prepared to live with a two-state settlement between Israel and Palestine, Nasrallah said he would not sabotage what is finally a ‘Palestinian matter.'” (Kfoury, 97.)
15. Why hasn’t Lebanon had an official census since 1932?
Following Lebanon’s independence from France in 1943 the “political system…was formalized into a system of sectarian communities…Each of the country’s seventeen recognized sects was accorded political privilege, including senior appointments in the bureaucracy, membership in parliament, and positions in high political office, roughly proportionate to the community’s size….Thus, the Maronites, considered the plurality, were accorded the presidency, which carried preeminent prerogatives and powers, and the second largest community, the Sunnis, won the premiership, decidedly second fiddle to the presidency. The Shi’i community, third largest, was awarded the speakership of the parliament, a position with far weaker constitutional powers than either the presidency or the premiership. The provenance of this allocation of power was a 1932 census of dubious reliability and, in fact, the last official census ever conducted in Lebanon….The imbalance of power…was rectified significantly by” the Ta’if accord; however Ta’if left in place the destructive sectarianism of the original constitution. “As a result of the Ta’if accord of 1989, which marked the end of the civil war [which claimed 150,000 lives], seats are divided equally [in parliament] between Muslim [including Druzes] and Christians, in contrast to the prior distribution that favored Christians by a 6 to 5 ratio. The 128 parliamentary seats are subdivided along confessional lines: 27 seats each for the three largest sects—Shi’a, Sunni, and Maronites…” (Norton, 11-12, 97.)
In 1932, Shi’ites were “a mere 16 per cent of the population.” However, by 2005, they had risen to “35 per cent of it.” (Hirst, 308.)
Lebanon’s dilemma is that while the percentage of Shi’a in the population has grown over the past decades, “the constitution does not” enable this fact to “be translated at the level of politics….So, every time a sect wants to move…upward in the political hierarchy” strife results. “In a regular democracy” votes would address the issue. (Norton, 155.)
“Not a single powerful political party in Lebanon, with the exception of Hezbollah, argued for a wholesale redesign of the political system because all of them knew that a more fair, just, or representative system would cast them from their perches. None of the movements allied with the moderates or with Hezbollah had anything resembling internal elections or party congresses. They were run like family mafias.” (Cambanis, 261.)
16. What percentage of the popular vote did Hezbollah and its allies receive in the 2009 elections?
In the June 2009 parliamentary elections, “Hezbollah and its allies…decisively triumphed in the popular vote, denying Saad Hariri and his backers an opportunity to trumpet the election as a great victory for the moderate axis….Of the roughly 1.5 million people who voted, 54 percent voted for Hezbollah [and its allies], and 46 for the governing coalition.” In June 2011, Lebanon’s new prime minister, Najib Mikati, announced a government dominated by members and allies of Hezbollah. (Cambanis, 286.)
“Hizbullah…has members of parliament and cabinet positions and…so it is part of the Lebanese political establishment.” All over the Arab world, the “” Muslim fundamentalist movements have for over a decade been…drawn into parliamentary, Westminster-style politics.” We see this with Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. (http://www.juancole.com/2012/05/romney-wants-to-fight-whole-muslim-world-not-concentrate-on-bin-laden.html)
“Without ever shedding its Islamist character and conservative moral code, Hezbollah has in fact built alliances with other parties, secular and non-Shiite, in order to get a larger representation in the government. When it put up candidates in…parliamentary elections, some of those on its electoral list were Christians…” (Kfoury, 100.)
17. True or False: Hezbollah campaigns for votes primarily by promoting religious issues.
False. “[M]ost striking about Hezbollah’s political campaigns is the extent to which nonreligious themes [such as economic and security issues] are habitually emphasized. Hezbollah’s electoral strategy does not dwell explicitly on religious themes at all, in stark contrast to, for example, Christian fundamentalist groups in the United States.” (Norton, 102.) (For more information, see the Christian Right Quiz here)
The Shia in southern Lebanon “were known as an easygoing and hospitable lot, who liked their food…tobacco…liquor…Once in the 1980s Hezbollah tried to preach austerity, in the manner of the Iranian ayatollahs, and popular support plummeted. They retreated quickly, and never again tried to enforce any moral code on the general public.” (Cambanis, 58.)
In municipalities where Hezbollah has controlled the local council it has shown a capacity for good governance and it has not prohibited alcohol. (Norton, 103.)
18. What are the two main reasons Hezbollah is supported by the bulk of Lebanon’s Shi’a and by many from other sects as well?
Hezbollah Provides Dignity
Hezbollah’s effective resistance against the legendarily effective Israeli military forces “embarrassed virtually all regular Arab armies and undermined the notion, deeply embedded in the Israeli psyche, that Arabs are inherently inferior in the arts of war.” Hezbollah thus gives Shiites a deep feeling of pride, for this it is honored. (Hirst, 247.)
Consider the words of an educated Lebanese Shiite to understand the deep support of Hezbollah: “The people of the South had grown accustomed to feeling downtrodden. But Hezbollah was able to give people a sense of pride so strong that people were willing to lose material things, and even to give family members as martyrs, so long as they could keep this sense of honor.” (Cambanis, 178.)
What good, Nasrallah can fairly ask, have the many years of negotiations between the PLO and Israel achieved? While the Palestinians continue to lack dignity under occupation, Hezbollah’s long resistance has led to dignity and freedom from occupation for Lebanese. (Cambanis, 8.)
Hezbollah Provides Services
As the “Lebanese government offers paltry social welfare services for its citizens” Hezbollah’s welfare provision is needed. And, unlike other Lebanese parties and militias, its “discipline, integrity and dedication generate feelings akin to awe among many Lebanese, Christians and Muslims alike.” (Norton, 107; Hirst, 240.)
Hezbollah engages “in a vast range of public services and infrastructural projects—from which Christians and Sunnis, not just Shiites, often benefited—such as hospitals and schools, cut-price supermarkets and pharmacies, low-cost housing, land reclamation and irrigation. [In some areas] it has assumed responsibility for most of the water supply, electricity, refuse collection, sewage disposal” and policing. (Hirst, 240.)
While support for Hezbollah is unquestionably genuine, the party does also deftly use “instruments of coercion” to maintain its dominance over its community. It has “its own intelligence network, its own army, police, court, and prisons…Shia political rivals who contested Hezbollah could be humiliated, slandered, or economically pressured. Social critics could face ostracizing, harassment, or loss of benefits.” (Cambanis, 179.)
19. Did Hezbollah praise the 9/11 terrorists?
Hezbollah was placed on the US Terrorism list in 1999 but “was taken off the list a couple of years later following Hezbollah’s strong condemnation of the 9/11 attack on America. Hezbollah was returned to the list when Dick Cheney opined that a ‘presumed Hezbollah operative’ probably met with an Al Qaeda representative in South America in 2001.” “A study undertaken at the American University of Beirut in January – February 2007, benefiting from research and surveys from a variety of international and Israeli human rights organizations, tabulated no fewer than 6,672 acts of Israeli state terrorism directed against Lebanon and Palestine between the years 1967-2007. Not only is Israel absent from the US State Department Terrorism list, Israel appears to determine who is on it.” (http://www.counterpunch.org/2007/04/06/why-is-hezbollah-on-the-terrorism-list/)
For more information, see the Terrorism Quiz here.
20. True or False: Hezbollah normally sends its most dispensable fighters on martyrdom (suicide) operations thus preserving its elite fighters.
False. Only Hezbollah fighters “of exceptional battlefield prowess [can] apply for martyrdom operations, and only a small subset of that elite [is] accepted.…If Hezbollah deployed callow throwaway teenagers on martyrdom operations the party felt it would cheapen rather than ennoble the cult of death. The party’s military planners reserved death missions for otherwise unattainable military objectives.” (Cambanis, 164.)
“Even though it cultivates a vibrant culture of martyrdom among it supporters, the party hasn’t launched a suicide bomber since December 30, 1999, when a Hezbollah fighter drove a car bomb into an Israeli military convoy.” (Cambanis, 12.)
If a U.S. marine charged an enemy sniper position to save comrades under fire he might receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government.