Hizbullah's Hypes Jihad Tour

Hizbullah guerrillas are promoting an interactive terror show, winning credibility and legitimacy with a Jihad Tour in southern Lebanon.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 15:34

Flag of Hizbullah terror group
Flag of Hizbullah terror group
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hizbullah guerrillas are promoting themselves to the folks at home, and winning credibility and legitimacy in the process, with weekly tours of southern Lebanon in what the group is calling “Jihad Tourism.” The tours were created to mark the 10th anniversary of Israel's pullout from the area.

After 22 years of Israel's having maintained its security buffer zone, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly made the decision in May 2000 to withdraw all IDF troops. The vacuum left in the region was quickly filled with Hizbullah terrorists, who honeycombed the area with tunnels and concrete bunkers. Their kidnapping of Israeli soldiers caused the 2006 Lebanon War.

The bunkers, packed with weapons, ammunition, food and other supplies, eventually became the backbone of the Hizbullah war effort against Israel in the hard-fought 2006 Second Lebanon War. Since that time, Hizbullah has acquired more than 60,000 missiles of varying sizes and ranges, including, according to IDF military intelligence, long-range Scud missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and beyond.

A “tourist jihad center,” a new war museum and a parade of ordnance accompanied by strutting terrorists are part of what one commentator called the "Disneyland,of  Islamic Terror" show for tours of hundreds of university students. Wide-eyed, the students hear a first-hand, Hizbullah version of of the guerrillas' battlefield experiences against the Israeli army.

Another special spot on the Jihad Tour is found in the woods on the hills of Sojod, just north of the area evacuated by Barak. This is the spot where Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah's son Hadi died while leading a raid against Israel in 1997, explains a Hizbullah tour guide. “This is the spot where he was martyred,” the guide says, indicating a blue prayer mat laid out among the trees. As students snap photos, the guerrilla fighters make themselves available for the shots, but ask that their faces not be seen.

Nasrallah himself has come to understand the importance of tourism and of positioning his group politically. Hizbullah now has representatives in the Lebanese government, although Nasrallah himself is in hiding.   “Everywhere you go there is a Holocaust museum, regardless of authenticity, accuracy or magnitude,” he told an Associated Press reporter, missing the irony in the comparison.

“This is an excellent, very well-organized trip,” a 19-year-old university student commented on the tour. “I think it's very important to get a first-hand look at Hizbullah because there are a lot of prejudices out there.”

And indeed, the Hizbullah war museum in Mlita, some 60,000 square meters large, includes a gallery, caves and a 250-meter-long simulated terrain with replicas of a Hizbullah-IDF battlefield scene.

At its opening this past Friday, Lebanon's president and prime minister both sent representatives. Noam Chomsky, an American Jew who is pro Hizballah and Iran but a damaging, fierce critic of Israel, was present as well.

Explains Jihad Hammoud, one of the tour organizers, “We are bringing students to the area previously occupied by Israel, to show them how the resistance, with its meager capabilities, was able to defeat the strongest army in the world.”