pro hizbullah rally gaza.
(photo credit: AP)
At least 50 newborn babies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been named after Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah over the past month, sources in the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
The move is an indication of his growing popularity of Nasrallah among Palestinians and Arabs in general, many of whom hail him for merely daring to stand up to Israel. As the war nears its end, some moderate Arabs expressed fear that the widely-perceived conviction on the Arab street that Hizbullah had won would enhance the position of those who argue that Israel can be defeated or destroyed.
"Almost every day we have a case of parents asking to name their newborn babies after Nasrallah," one source said. "This reminds me of the days when Palestinians used to name their children after Saddam Hussein because of the missile attacks on Israel during the Gulf War."
Naming babies after Nasrallah is only one of the ways many Palestinians have been expressing their gratitude for the Shi'ite leader for firing thousands of rockets and missiles at Israel and for inflicting heavy casualties on the IDF. Nasrallah's posters and the yellow flag of Hizbullah have flooded local markets. CDs containing new songs heaping praise on Nasrallah and Hizbullah are being sold on the streets of Palestinian cities for NIS 10.
One of the most popular, Welcome the Hawk of Lebanon, includes 14 songs and parts of speeches delivered by Nasrallah since the war broke out. Some of the songs ridicule Arab governments and leaders for failing to join the fight, while others urge the Palestinian factions to copy Hizbullah's tactics and step up attacks on Israel.
Expressing enormous admiration for Hizbullah, Palestinians across the political spectrum agreed that Israel had suffered a humiliating defeat.
"This war has shown once again that Israel is much weaker than it is perceived, especially in the Arab world," said Ziad Abdel Fattah, a Fatah operative from a village near Ramallah. "Other than kill hundreds of civilians, Israel failed to achieve most of its goals, particularly the destruction of Hizbullah. Everyone saw how Israeli soldiers were forced to retreat in the face of the heroes of Hizbullah."
Muhammad Atiyeh, who describes himself as a Hamas supporter, is convinced that the war in Lebanon could signal the beginning of the demise of Israel. "After 30 days of fighting, Israel had to beg the Americans for a cease-fire," he said. "Had it not been for the US, Israel would have vanished a long time ago. We have seen in recent years that Israel does not have the capability to confront Muslim warriors from Hamas and Hizbullah. The day will come when all Muslims will unite and wipe Israel off the map."
Echoing a similar view, Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture Atallah Abu al-Sabah said that the war in Lebanon has proven that it's only a matter of time before Israel disappears.
"The saying that Israel is here to stay has proven to be a false one," he told a pro-Hizbullah rally in Gaza City. "Israel can be defeated and this is what the Arab regimes should know. It's time to remove the dust from Arab weapons and to use them to liberate Palestine and the Aksa Mosque."
He expressed his wish that "every Arab capital would have its own Hizbullah... Hizbullah has taught Israel an unforgettable lesson and we hope that all the Arab countries will start recruiting and training young men to fight like the great Hizbullah fighters."
Palestinian political analysts said the fact that many Palestinians and Arabs are convinced that Hizbullah had won the war will boost the popularity of extremist groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida.
"This war will have negative repercussions on the Palestinian arena," said former PA minister and political analyst Ghassan Khatib. "The radicals who believe that force is the only way to resolve the conflict will be strengthened as a result of this war."
Arab commentators were quick to declare over the weekend that Hizbullah had won the war.
Writing in the Mathaba News Network, columnist Zaher Mahruqi said the Hizbullah "victory" will boost the status of jihadists around the world.
"As the jihadists movements prove their potency on the battleground in southern Lebanon, the rest of the jihadists in the world win, at the very least, a psychological victory and a renewed sense of legitimacy," he said. "After all, Hizbullah, which was coined to be a terrorist group by world powers, is now viewed as a legitimate and capable resistance movement."
Noting the fact that al-Qaida had come out in support of Hizbullah, Mahruqi continued: "This symbolic unification, which came at a time when the Arab regimes had been stripped of final grain of manhood when they stood helpless while the children of Kana fell, entails the rise of jihadists and the beginning of a free fall of [pro- Western] Arab leaderships.
"Hizbullah won the war and in doing so has given hope to the Arab and Muslim world that where there is faith, will and preparation, nothing is impossible. The army that was thought to be too powerful for the 250 million Arabs combined has been put in check by a group of less than 10,000 men. That is indeed legendary and has many implications."