Hezbollah’s political manifesto calls for the removal of all Western influences from Lebanon and from the Muslim Middle East, Israel’s eradication and the “liberation” of Jerusalem, and the establishment of a radical Shi’ite theocracy in Lebanon. Hezbollah has gained support among Lebanese by setting up schools, hospitals and social service agencies, and it has a political element that participates in Lebanese electoral politics. But, Hezbollah’s social and political activities are subordinated to its ultimate military objectives. All of Hezbollah was listed as a terrorist organization by Canada on December 11, 2002.
Hezbollah committed numerous terror attacks against U.S. and other Western targets, including the 1983 suicide bombings in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French soldiers, as well as the 1996 bombing at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in which 19 were killed. Working with Iranian agents, Hezbollah bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in March 1992 and the AMIA Jewish community centre in July 1994.
In the 1980s and 1990s Hezbollah engaged in a terror war of attrition against Israeli forces in South Lebanon and it launched Katyusha missiles on Israeli population centres in the northern Galilee. Hezbollah refused to accept Israel’s May 2000 withdrawal to the internationally-recognized border with Lebanon, for to do so would undermine its self-declared status as a Lebanese “national liberation movement”.
Beginning in 2000, Hezbollah acquired vast quantities of weapons, including missiles, from Iran and Syria and built sophisticated networks of underground bunkers in southern Lebanon, in preparation for war with Israel. In July 2006, it kidnapped two IDF soldiers and simultaneously fired waves of Katyusha missiles on north-central Israel, including Haifa. The infrastructure damage in Lebanon resulting from the war it initiated cost Hezbollah much of its popular support.
Since the Lebanon War, Hezbollah has received weapons smuggled from Iran and Syria, in explicit violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. It has increased its support for Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. And it provoked a major crisis in Lebanon’s delicate multiethnic political balance by abruptly quitting the Lebanese government and demanding the country’s immediate transformation into a Shi’ite-dominated Islamic theocracy.