How Powerful is Lebanese Hezbollah and Why Does It Exist?

Hezbollah's military drills in southern Lebanon. (Image: Palestine Chronicle, via Hezbollah military media)

By Robert Inlakesh

Being the first Arab fighting force to inflict defeat upon the Israeli army, Hezbollah is considered an existential threat to Israel in the event of full-scale war. 

Although it is widely misunderstood as a proxy force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the party was an organic Lebanese response to the Israeli occupation and invasion in 1982, now having evolved into a fully-fledged military power.

Led by its prolific speaker, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, who spearheads Hezbollah in the position of Secretary-General, the Lebanese Resistance group is believed to be in possession of hundreds of thousands of missiles; an unknown number of which are modern precision-guided munitions.

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Israel’s War of Aggression

In 1982, Israel launched a war of aggression against Lebanon, with the aim of dismantling the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that had based itself out of the Lebanese Capital, Beirut. 

Following a brutal onslaught by the Israeli military, resulting in the deaths of roughly 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, the majority of whom were civilians, Tel Aviv’s goal was accomplished and the PLO leadership was forced out of the country. 

However, what came next was not a simple withdrawal of the invading army from Lebanese territory, in fact, quite the contrary. 

With no one left to defend them, Israeli forces used allied Christian militias to commit massacres, mainly against Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shia, the most infamous case being the Sabra and Shatila camp massacre. Additionally, Israel decided to illegally occupy the south of Lebanon.

The Party of God

The horrifying slaughter and illegal occupation of Lebanese territory then gave birth to a new movement, Hezbollah, which translates to ‘the Party of God’ in English. 

Lebanese Hezbollah rose to prominence as a resistance group, recruiting its members from the economically marginalized Shia Muslim community and came to represent the majority of Lebanon’s Shias, overtaking the Amal Movement in popularity.

In the year 2000, following over 15 years of armed struggle against the illegal occupation forces, Hezbollah made history by forcing the Israelis to withdraw from the majority of southern Lebanon, with the exception of the occupied Shebaa Farms region. 

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Forced to Retreat

In 2006, after Hezbollah’s elite forces pulled off a cross-border military operation, capturing and killing a number of Israeli soldiers, with the intention of trading the captives for Lebanese and Palestinian political detainees, Israel invaded Lebanon once again.

Hezbollah shocked the world by becoming the first Arab fighting force to ever have inflicted defeat on the Israeli army in a war. 

The group surprised the Israelis with new kinds of weapons that had not been revealed to be in Hezbollah’s arsenal, eventually inflicting such losses on the invading forces that they were forced to retreat from Lebanese territory once again. 

Since 2006, the Israeli army has never dared to re-invade Lebanon, for fear of the repercussions.

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Military Power

In 2022, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah revealed that the armed wing of Hezbollah maintains a battle ready ground force of at least 100,000 men. The party’s leader stipulated that this did not include the many allied militia forces and the group’s Special Forces units, known as the Radwan Forces.

As of now, the true size of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal is unknown and is only based upon rough estimates. 

Since October 8, Hezbollah’s forces have been engaged in daily battles along the border areas of northern Israel, having carried out hundreds of strikes with suicide drones, guided anti-tank weapons, rockets and mortars, as well as sniper fire. 

Hundreds of buildings in Israeli settlements have been damaged as the result of the munitions fired from Lebanon, and Hezbollah claims to have inflicted over 2,000 casualties against Israeli soldiers and settlers. 

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Unlike is the case with the Palestinian armed groups based in Gaza, it is understood that Hezbollah has the capabilities of carrying out strikes against Israeli cities that can match the destruction against Lebanon. 

If a war is to break out between Lebanon and Israel, Hezbollah is believed to have the capacity to level entire suburbs in cities such as Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Often described as simply a proxy army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the group’s political wing is engaged in the Lebanese democratic process and has sitting members of parliament. 

It is also governed by its own independent Shura council and the connection to Iran comes in the form of financial and military support, in addition to a close religious alignment. 

Hezbollah maintains close contact with the Palestinian Resistance factions and is believed to have provided them with weapons and training, as well as logistical support.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. How Israel and Washington reacted to Hizbullah’s victory over the IDF is reminiscent of how Washington reacted to the US Army’s defeat at the hands of Sitting Bull at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and at the hands of the Viet Cong and NVA in Vietnam – call the winner nasty names, turned on themselves and sulked. It’s an interesting – and thoroughly illegal – definition of “terrorist” – “military force that defeated the previous strongest army in the region.” It’s the way Donald J. Trump defined the 2020 US election as “stolen” – because he didn’t win it. IDF makes much whine; none of it of any quality, though.


  3. I strongly agree as these are the Origins of Palestine, those believers of Zionism must be sent back to their countries of Origins, to name few, USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Palestinian Muslims, Christians, Jews have been living together for centuries, until these Zionist European Jews were brought in to unstable Middle East.

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