Examining the Impact of IDF’s Departure, the Rise of Hezbollah, and its Consequences on Lebanese Society


On May 25, 2000, after 23 years of presence, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officially withdrew from Lebanon. Their initial entry aimed to dismantle the Fatah organization, which had been using Lebanese territory to launch attacks against Israel. However, the subsequent events following the IDF’s departure paved the way for the rise of Hezbollah and had far-reaching consequences for Lebanon.

Shifting Public Sentiment and the Four Mothers Movement:

During the 1980s, there was a prevailing consensus among Israelis to maintain military control in Lebanon, particularly in the first decade of Israel’s presence. However, during the 1990s, public sentiment changed as the cost and toll of the occupation became apparent. Calls for a withdrawal from Lebanon grew stronger, bolstered by movements like the influential “Four Mothers Movement.” Comprised of concerned mothers of Israeli soldiers, the movement played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and demanding an immediate exit from Lebanon.

Ehud Barak’s Promise and Disputes within the South Lebanon Army (SLA):

In 1999, Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party, made a campaign promise during his bid for prime minister. He pledged to withdraw the Israeli army promptly upon winning the elections, aiming to protect Israeli lives and minimize losses. However, disputes within the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a local militia supported by Israel, and the disintegration of the SLA itself hastened the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s Seizure of Vacated Areas and Erosion of Democracy:

The accelerated IDF withdrawal created a power vacuum in southern Lebanon, which Hezbollah swiftly exploited. Hezbollah, backed by Iran, capitalized on the situation and effectively hijacked the democracy in Lebanon. While initially positioning themselves as a resistance movement against Israeli occupation, they extended their influence over vast lands and wooded areas. Under the pretext of resistance and force, Hezbollah established control over these territories, infringing upon the rights of landowners and curtailing the liberties of the Lebanese people.

Consequences for Lebanon’s Democracy

Hezbollah’s ascendancy and control in southern Lebanon have had severe repercussions for Lebanon’s democracy and political landscape. The group’s dominance has led to widespread discontent among many Lebanese who expected a different outcome following the Israeli withdrawal. Hezbollah’s tight grip on power, restrictions on freedoms, and suppression of dissent have eroded the democratic principles upon which Lebanon was founded.

In conclusion, the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 marked a significant turning point in the region’s history. However, it also paved the way for Hezbollah’s rise and subsequent control, ultimately undermining the democratic ideals that Lebanon once cherished. The impact of the IDF’s departure and Hezbollah’s dominance continues to shape Lebanese society, raising concerns about the future of democracy and the fundamental rights of its citizens.