This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim organization formed in Lebanon after the Israeli
invasion in nineteen eighty-two. The name means “Party of God."
Hezbollah calls itself a resistance group. It took credit when Israel ended
the occupation of southern Lebanon in two thousand. The United States, among
others, considers it a terrorist organization.
Hezbollah's history of attacks includes the bombing that killed two hundred
forty-one Americans in Beirut in nineteen eighty-three. Most of the dead were
Marines. That attack led to the withdrawal of American peacekeepers from
Lebanon. This week Marines were back in Beirut to help Americans leave the
Most Western experts believe Hezbollah gets much financial and military
support from the Iranian government. Iran says it gives only moral support.
An Iranian spokesman this week denied an Israeli charge that Iranian forces
were in Lebanon helping Hezbollah fire rockets into Israel. He also said Israel
would face great losses if it attacked Syria, which withdrew troops from Lebanon
Hezbollah is organized into political and military parts. It has thousands of
rockets, which the group has used to kill Israelis. But Hezbollah also provides
social services, including schools and hospitals, in Lebanon. And it has entered
Lebanese politics. It holds seats in Parliament and, after elections last year,
has two members in the government.
Hezbollah operates from mainly Shiite areas of Beirut, southern Lebanon and
the Bekaa Valley. American intelligence experts say some members are active in
Europe, Africa and the Americas.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is the secretary-general of Hezbollah. He says Israel
is the aggressor. He says Muslims have a duty to fight Israeli occupation of
their lands. But critics says the group's actions are hurting Lebanon at a time
when its economy was beginning to recover from years of civil war.
On Thursday, at the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for
an immediate end to the hostilities of the past week. He said Hezbollah started
the crisis and is holding the nation of Lebanon hostage. On July twelfth
Hezbollah members kidnapped two Israeli soldiers inside Israel. But Mr. Annan
also condemned the Israeli military actions that have followed as "excessive."
Israel says its goal is to end the threat of attacks from Hezbollah. It also
wants the kidnapped soldiers back. Hezbollah's leader demanded a prisoner
Kofi Annan called for an international conference on putting Security Council
guidelines into effect. Israel has said it would welcome any effort on
Resolution Fifteen Fifty-Nine. That resolution calls for the deployment of
Lebanese troops along the border, and the disarming of militant groups including
And that's IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English, written by Nancy Steinbach.
I'm Steve Ember.