Israel’s war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 ended with a cease-fire, but the war never really stopped. Hezbollah has been using the absence of Israeli attacks in the interim to rearm and rebuild. With Syrian and Iranian help it has massively increased the number, range, and capacity of missiles which can be brought to bear against virtually the entire state of Israel.
Along with all the infrastructure and firepower, Hezbollah has been building tourist attractions. From the German news site Telepolis comes this report on the opening of a “Hezbollah Disneyland” in South Lebanon. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Tourist Jihad Central
Florian Rötzer, July 13, 2010
For the purposes of better propaganda, Hezbollah has opened a kind of “War Disneyland” in south Lebanon for the “Islamic Resistance” against Israeli occupation.
Hezbollah (the Party of God) in Lebanon has reportedly armed itself for a renewed confrontation with Israel. Since the end of the Lebanon war in 2006, the UN has been trying to prevent weapons-smuggling with its UNIFIL Mission.
To be sure, there is a “robust mandate” for securing the peace and the accomplishment of goals, but Hezbollah, it is said, will not only have filled its arsenals with new weapons and rockets with a longer range, but also built up its bases in southern Lebanon and constructed new ones. The 15,000 UN troops are also responsible for making sure that there are no militias in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is in place in Lebanon, where it is so strongly represented in the government that there can be no thought of disarmament, and the UN mission, which costs more than 500 million US dollars a year, can only be carried out with the support or forbearance of Hezbollah. While Hezbollah is arming itself, Israel is regularly flying warplanes over southern Lebanon.
Recently Israel noted on the basis of hitherto secret aerial photographs and maps that Hezbollah has established armories in schools, clinics, and residences, and transformed whole villages near the Israeli border into bases. Israel also reported that Hezbollah is expanding its communication infrastructure and collecting information about the Israeli army. After the Lebanon war. Hezbollah fighters, because of the presence of UNIFIL troops, apparently withdrew to the villages, whereas they had previously had their bases in bunkers and tunnels in open country.
Hezbollah reacted by announcing that it had made a list of attack points in Israel in case of war. The argument could be made that Israel was planning an attack and was therefore preparing the world public for it. Apparently the assumption within Hezbollah is that such an attack could happen as soon as July, i.e. in the month when Israel’s successful Lebanon war began four years ago.
Hezbollah is memorializing the still unfinished war in a theme park. Hezbollah has also used the four years since the end of the war to make its propagandized “Islamic resistance” into a tourist experience. At the cost of four million US dollars, a former post in the hills of southern Lebanon in the former Israeli occupation zone, 44 kilometers from Beirut, was rebuilt and expanded for Hezbollah-Disneyland Mleeta, to become a “tourist landmark of the resistance.” Israel marched into Lebanon in 1982 and Israeli troops were withdrawn in 2000. The area of Shebaa Farms, however, is still occupied. Hezbollah was founded in 1982. With this martial center, it is celebrating its decades-long battle against the invaders and the anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal.
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Naturally the Hezbollah Open-Air War Museum in the “land that speaks to heaven” represents the paramilitary organization as victorious. In the middle of the facility, the “Abyss” was enthusiastically constructed: a wild, “interactive” still-life or sculpture park with Israeli soldiers’ boots, bombs, ranged artillery, overturned cars and tanks. It was made out of a crater left behind by an Israeli bomb. Everything seems to have been blown into it. A Merkava-4 tanks is connected with weighty symbolism to a hitch. At the opening ceremony in May, the Hezbollah chief was present only by video and declared that this “Jihad Center for Tourists” was important to document the undistorted history of the resistance.
It is said that the idea for the theme park came from Hezbollah top terrorist, Imad Mugniyeh, who was a mythic figure for the organization and was declared responsible for numerous attacks. After hiding in the underground for the last twenty years, he was killed in early 2008 by an auto bomb attack. Hezbollah swore revenge and pointed at Israel.
Otherwise, the “museum” to the continuing war is laid out for entertainment. There is a cafeteria. Pictures and films of “victories” are shown. Naturally there is also a gift and memento shop, and a place for prayer. Tunnels, caves, bunkers, disguised launch chutes for the Katyusha rockets, trenches — everything is offered to support the romanticism of armed resistance and probably awaken young people’s interest in joining the organization. There is detailed information on all weapons, including their use. On a path lined with oaks, dummies are lined up, dressed in camouflage. On display are command centers, kitchens and armories, katyusha rockets, American TOW rockets (which may have been acquired during the Iran-Contra affair), or a remote-controlled Kornet-E antitank weapon, with which Hezbollah was able to stop Israeli tanks in the last Lebanon war.
On the wall of the exhibition hall are listed the names of all Israeli military, from President Peres to the simplest soldier. Also on view are satellite pictures of possible targets in Israel: Ben-Gurion airport, the railroad station or power plants in Haifa. On the tour, one comes upon an observation deck from which it is possible to see the hills and villages which were liberated.
But because it is a Disneyland for an allegedly successful and legitimate war, there is nothing to be seen aside from plunder — from the horrors of a war and the consequences of terror attacks. Hezbollah too seems to want to conduct a clean war which has nothing to do with pain, blood, death and destruction. Members of Hezbollah say that it is clear to them that, in case of war with Israel, the tourist center would be destroyed. It would just be rebuilt. Two more tourist centers of the resistance are planned, and a hotel on the border with Israel.
I offer my own modest contribution to assist this commendable commercial enterprise by the Party of God: the official soft drink for Hezboland.
The Ceasefire That Refreshes!