Map showing the airbases of the Israeli Air Force and specifying the names of the squadrons in each base, types of planes used by each squadron, and the emblems of the squadrons.
Belongings of Hezbollah shahids. On the uniforms, there are unit badges of the Iranian Revolution Guards (Facebook)
Cadets of the Lebanese army’s officers’ training school visiting Mleeta on Lebanon’s Army Day in 2015.
Delegation of women belonging to the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office (engaged in religious questions and answers for women) visiting Mleeta (Facebook page of Mleeta, March 13, 2018).
- Hezbollah constructs a Shiite “mini-state” among the Shiite community in Lebanon, which caters to the needs of Shiite population in all spheres of life. For this purpose, Hezbollah, with massive Iranian support, is engaged in establishing a civilian system, which operates alongside its military infrastructure, in the spheres of education, culture, health, welfare, finance, sports, construction, agriculture, and more.
- The social institutions established by Hezbollah, and its intensive civilian activity, provide the Shiite population of Lebanon with a wide variety of services of the sort which is usually provided by the state, while taking advantage of the weakness of the Lebanese administration and years of neglect of the Shiite community. Hezbollah’s extensive civilian activity is designed to create among the Shiites in Lebanon a “resistance society” which supports Hezbollah in its struggle against Israel.
- The main site used for jihadi tourism is the Mleeta Tourist Landmark of the Resistance, which was established in Jabal Safi (north of Nabatieh) after the Second Lebanon War. This site, from which Hezbollah operated when the IDF was deployed in the Security Zone in southern Lebanon, is where extensive activity takes place, focusing on the inculcation of Hezbollah’s battle legacy, the commemoration of Hezbollah’s shahids, the cultivation of shahada culture (heroic death for the sake of Allah), and the glorification of Hezbollah’s capabilities in the military struggle against Israel. Other prominent sites where jihadi tourism takes place are the detention facility in the village of Al-Khiyam and the Iran Garden in Maroun al-Ras (both near the border with Israel). Another site is the Garden of the Shahids cemetery in Beirut’s southern suburb, where Hezbollah’s high-ranking shahids (including Imad Mughniyeh) are buried.
- The main “tourism sites” and additional local sites throughout Lebanon are visited by Shiite Lebanese citizens, Hezbollah operatives, delegations of various institutions in Lebanon (including the Lebanese army), and delegations from abroad, including Iranian delegations. These sites host exhibitions, ceremonies and events of a political nature. Hezbollah’s media empire is also mobilized to preserve the organization’s battle legacy, inter alia, through several designated Twitter accounts.
The museum in Mleeta. Right: Map showing the Israeli airbases and the names of squadrons in each base, types of planes operated by each squadron, and the squadrons’ emblems. Left: Exhibition of weapons seized from the IDF (Facebook)
Inculcation of Hezbollah’s battle legacy and ideology in the Lebanese army. Right: Cadets of the Lebanese army’s officers’ training school visiting the Mleeta site on Lebanon’s Army Day (2015). Left: Routine visit by Lebanese soldiers during a course, July 2017 (Facebook page of the Mleeta site, August 1, 2015; New Lebanon website, July 1, 2017)
- Iran’s “fingerprint” and Iranian support for Hezbollah are clearly felt in Mleeta. The site was built after the Second Lebanon War by the Iranian Association for Assistance in the Reconstruction of Lebanon, which assisted Hezbollah to rebuild southern Lebanon after the war. Explanation signs for visitors in Mleeta also include a translation into Persian, and Nasrallah’s speech which is projected on a screen has also Persian subtitles. Many Iranian delegations visit the site (for example, in 2018, there were 14 visits of Iranian delegations, including a delegation of the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office). Iranian delegations also visit additional Hezbollah battle legacy sites, including the Iran Garden in Maroun al-Ras (a jihadi tourism site which was also built by the Iranian Association for Assistance in the Reconstruction of Lebanon) and the Garden of the Shahids cemetery in Beirut’s southern suburb.
Right: Delegation of women belonging to the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office (engaged in religious questions and answers for women) visiting Mleeta (Facebook page of Mleeta, March 13, 2018). Left: Belongings of Hezbollah’s shahids at an exhibition in memory of shahids at the detention facility in Al-Khiyam. On the uniforms, there are unit badges of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Facebook)
Structure of the study
- The study includes the following sections:
- Background for the emergence of jihadi tourism
- Mleeta Tourist Landmark of the Resistance
- Al-Khiyam Detention Facility as a jihadi tourism site
- The Iran Garden in Maroun al-Ras
- Jihadi exhibitions
- Jihadi meetings and trips
- The Garden of the Shahids (or: the Garden of the Two Shahids) in southern Beirut
- Appendix: The ITIC’s publications on Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure