In the mid-1980s the Hizbollah guerrillas, known as the Islamic Resistance, executed a series of operations against Israeli and U.S. targets to force the United States and Israel to withdraw all military presence from Lebanon. After the end of the Lebanese civil war (1975–90), the group focused its attacks on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the South Lebanon Army (SLA).
The IDF and the SLA occupied an 850-square-kilometer stretch in south Lebanon known as the “security zone.” Hizbollah’s main aim was to liberate this area. In 1996, the United Nations (UN) sponsored the “April Accord,” legitimizing Hizbollah as a resistance movement.
After the withdrawal of the IDF from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hizbollah continued fighting the IDF around the disputed, Israeli-occupied Shaaba Farms area. Although the UN regarded Shaaba Farms as Syrian territory, Hizbollah considered the area part of Lebanon. Hizbollah also sought the release of Lebanese and Arab prisoners in Israel and followed a strategy of snatching IDF soldiers in Shaba Farms to exchange for prisoners.
In addition to its military wing, Hizbollah maintains a civilian arm, which runs hospitals, schools, orphanages, and one television station—Al-Manar. Hizbollah held 14 seats in the 128-member Lebanese Parliament in 2005.
Hizbollah remains active in Shi’i-dominated areas in Lebanon—mainly the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon—and fought tenaciously against the Israeli attack on it and the invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006.