As Hezbollah buries its fighters, supporters say they are defiant 

Hezbollah, the Shia militant group based in Lebanon, has said that Israel has killed about 340 of its fighters since Oct. 7. At a funeral for a Hezbollah fighter who was killed in June, mourners talk about the goals of this so-called “resistance movement.”

The World
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In Houmin Tahta in southern Lebanon — Hezbollah territory — funerals are happening more and more these days.

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has been steadily increasing since the start of the current war in Gaza. And, it’s taking a toll on both sides of the border.

Hezbollah has said that 352 of its fighters have been killed in southern Lebanon since Oct. 7. 

Shia clerics attend the funeral for a Hezbollah fighter.Shirin Jaafari/The World

Hezbollah is the most-powerful Shia militia in the Middle East. Its military might is much bigger than Hamas, thanks to assistance from Iran. 

The group has said it is fighting Israel in solidarity with the people of Gaza. But also because it wants to take back Lebanese land that it says Israel is occupying.

“These are criminals, and the whole world knows it,” said Um Ali, who attended a recent funeral in Houmin Tahta for Hezbollah fighter Radwan Issa, who was 47.

Radwan Issa was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon.Shirin Jaafari/The World

Issa, a husband and father to three children, was killed in an Israeli airstrike just the day before.

“We don’t like the culture of death; we love life, we like to live our lives but since we have this back-and-forth war with this enemy, we should defend from this enemy,” said Um Abbas, who was also at the funeral. 

Neither of the women wanted to give their full names because they said they were worried that speaking with foreign media might get them into trouble with the militia group. 

During the funeral, men carried Issa’s coffin through a narrow street while women in black chadors, the black garment covering them from head to toe, followed behind. A man chanted prayers through a loudspeaker.

Women chant pro-Hezbollah slogans at the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter in southern Lebanon.Shirin Jaafari/The World

As the group neared the cemetery, the sound of an explosion, followed by thick smoke, caused a panic.

In the confusion, some people tried to calm their neighbors while others started to leave, worried that the airstrikes could continue.

Um Ali stayed put.

Mourners at the funeral of Hezbollah fighter Radwan Issa in June.Shirin Jaafari/The World

“We don’t want this war. It has been imposed on us,” Um Ali said. “And we’re willing to sacrifice everything for our land and for the children of Gaza.”

She pulled two pictures out of her wallet of two young men who were her relatives and Hezbollah fighters.

They were killed in Israeli airstrikes in recent months, she said, adding that they held funerals for them, too.

Tomb and photo of Hezbollah member in southern Lebanon.Shirin Jaafari/The World
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