For, Chouaya a small village in the district of Hasbaya in the South of Lebanon, last Friday August 6 was simply another tranquil day, until Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese militia decided to use the outskirts of the village to launch a barrage of missiles against Israeli positions in the Shebaa farms.
While the rockets fired mostly fell in desolate plots of land and Israeli retaliation to it was limited, the reaction of the villagers of Chouaya was excessively violent as they intercepted the camouflaged truck hiding the rocket launcher and beat up the eight-team militiamen escorting it and arrested them before handing them over to the Lebanese Army, which released them that same evening.
A video of the incident was leaked, and showed a furious mob, some of them wearing the religious Druze outfit, objecting to Hezbollah turning their homes into potential military targets for Israeli retaliation. The Druze villagers’ encounter with Hezbollah sparked a nationwide show of solidarity as many Lebanese were joyous that someone was bold enough to confront Iran’s militia and challenge its unheeded drive to drive Lebanon further into a war it cannot win.
To add insult to injury, Hezbollah resorted to using sectarianism to save face, calling upon its powerbase to attack the Druze for daring to do the bidding of Israel, and making it appear as if they were preventing Hezbollah from liberating Palestine.
This dangerous sectarian rhetoric and peddling resulted in an assault by pro-Hezbollah youths on two Druze clerics selling figs and cactus in the vicinity and forcing them out of the village.
This triggered a violent reaction, as they ambushed Taxi vans driving up the Beirut-Damascus highway into the Beqaa and assaulting anyone they believed to be Shia. The Druze that attacked these vans did so with the assumption they are supporters of Hezbollah, while in fact many of which were Sunni and others were only heading towards the Beqaa. A cruel and barbaric act which made a bad situation even worse.
Notwithstanding these recent events Hezbollah’s position is uneasy situation. It has been under pressure internally due to Lebanon’s economic collapse.
The decision to escalate hostilities across the border seems to have been dictated by Iran which is already under tremendous pressure with international condemnation of piracy activities in the Arabian Gulf. There most recently exploit saw the finger being pointed at them for their suspected attack on the HV Mercer Street oil tanker off the coast of Oman.
Recent evidence from last year’s port blast in Beirut suggests that only 20 percent of the confiscated 2500 tons of nitrate had exploded, inferring that Hezbollah might have smuggled it elsewhere. To Syria perhaps, to help supply a key ingredient to the Assad regime for their infamous barrel bombs. To many, Hezbollah’s decision to provoke Israel by firing several unidentified missiles on the one year anniversary of the Beirut blast was nothing short of an attempt to deflect accusations of its involvement in the seismic blast that destroyed downtown Beirut.
It is mostly assumed that Hezbollah would not have declared its responsibility for the Chouaya launch had it not clashed with the villagers. Its usual tactic is to use Palestinian militant organization to take responsibility for these theatrical launches.
In his latest TV appearance Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, tried to downplay the Chouaya incident and assured his audience that the Druze village incident was a simple misunderstanding. Hezbollah consciously chose to stand down and did not retaliate against the attack.
He made a similar claim when his militants clashed with members of the Arab Tribes in Khalde, South of Beirut.
What transpired at Chouaya was not simply a Hezbollah military operation that went wrong, but is another vivid reminder that the group is indifferent about using Lebanon and the people as human shields in a losing fight with Israel, and merely to serve the ultimate goals of Iran’s transnational expansionist project.
By human shields, he will not risk the lives from his supporter base. No Shiite villages are considered viable for missile launches. It isn’t worth the risk of alienating these people.
The villagers of Chouaya, along with their Lebanese compatriots, and this includes Hezbollah supporters, do not want to be turned into human targets. Equally the people realize that Hezbollah - as a corrupt political Lebanese party, and as an Iranian sponsored militia - is accountable for their country’s port blast tragedy.
The Druze of Chouaya were beyond courageous in standing up to Hezbollah, but this show of courage needs to be turned into a nationwide protest movement to tell it, and the corrupt political establishment that protects it, that their dangerous military endeavors stops here.