By Dahr Jamail
BEIRUT, Aug 7 (IPS) - As the war in Lebanon approaches the one-month mark, and amid the destruction of much of Lebanon, Hezbollah appears to be gaining strength within the country and around the Arab world.
The Israeli aim of widespread bombing of the Lebanese infrastructure in order to create resentment against Hezbollah seems to have played into the strengths of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, known in many western countries as a "terrorist organisation", is widely seen in Lebanon as a legitimate political and social power.
One reason for this, according to an official representative of Hezbollah and member of the Lebanese Parliament, is that Hezbollah has never aimed to turn Lebanon into an Islamic state.
"Hezbollah is a democratic party whose principles are based on the Lebanese constitution," Tarad Hamade told IPS. "This means we have to respect the cultural and religious diversity in the country. We have never intended to establish an Islamic state."
Hamade, who is also labour minister, said: "Israel wants to terrorise the country and inflict as much damage as possible. They call us terrorists, at the same time as they are exercising state terrorism. Are they not terrorists?"
More and more Lebanese are beginning to hold this view.
Lebanese see the destruction by Israelis all around them. The damage to the civilian infrastructure will cost billions of dollars to fix.
All three of Lebanon's airports and all four of its ports have been bombed. Damage done to houses and businesses is estimated at above a billion dollars. At least 22 fuel and gas stations have been bombed. Scores of factories have been damaged or destroyed.
Red Cross ambulances, government emergency centres, UN peacekeeping forces and observers, media outlets and mobile phone towers have been bombed -- all in violation of international law.
Mosques and churches have been bombed, and illegal weapons such as cluster bombs and white phosphorous used. More than 90 percent of those killed, close to 1,000 according to official estimates, are civilians.
The result is that rather than pressuring Hezbollah by destroying Lebanon, Israel has increased popular support for the group, and brought the wishes of most Lebanese more in line with the stated goals of Hezbollah to keep Israel at bay.