Zeina Karam Associated Press Jun. 1, 2003
BEIRUT, Lebanon - A 3-D
computer game is the militant Hezbollah group's latest weapon
in its propaganda war on Israel.
destroy your enemy in the game of force and victory," the
game's slogan exhorts.
Now on sale in Lebanon,
Special Force pits a guerrilla armed with a knife, a
pistol, hand grenades and a Kalashnikov assault rifle against
Israeli soldiers operating from fortified positions in
southern Lebanon protected by land mines, a Merkava tank and
an Apache helicopter.
Outcome not assured
Virtual victory is not
always assured. The game is challenging enough that the
guerrillas often are shot and killed by the
The game simulates Hezbollah military
operations against Israel's army, which ended an 18-year
occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000 after a guerrilla war
of attrition. Working for two years, Hezbollah's production
team relied on maps, films and other material from the group's
media archives to make its graphics true-to-life.
real life, the Israelis and Hezbollah now face off across a
tense, generally quiet border, but the movement's propaganda
campaign remains intense.
"We don't see them as games
but as part of an educational process which is preventing any
chance of real peace," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Ron
Prosor told the Associated Press in Jerusalem when asked about
Karim Arab, a Lebanese
10-year-old, is a fan. "It's great," the boy said as he fired
at an Israeli military outpost before his "guerrillas"
prepared to storm it. He said that what he likes about the
game is being able to shoot at Israelis, "which I cannot do in
Fighting Israel has been a driving force
for Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria and is on the
State Department's list of terrorist
Special Force can be played in
Arabic, English, French and Farsi, the language of Iran. It
includes a training center where a player can practice
shooting at posters featuring, among others, Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon.
A good performance in the game
earns a certificate presented by Hezbollah's leader, Sheik
Hassan Nasrallah. The game ends with an exhibit of Hezbollah
"martyrs": fighters killed by Israel.
The creators of
Special Force say the aim is to counter the "invasion"
of Arab markets by foreign games.
"Most games being
offered on the market are games in which, unfortunately, the
hero is an American, and he is coming to kill the terrorist,
who is an Arab," said Mahmoud Rayya, an official of
Hezbollah's Central Internet Bureau who helped develop the
"We wanted to provide our youths with an
alternative," he said. "Resistance is not confined to weapons.
You also have to catch up with the ever-growing industries
like the Internet and computer games."
Hezbollah also maintains more than 20 Internet sites and has
developed 15 CDs about Israel's occupation and withdrawal from
southern Lebanon. Special Force is its first video
Rayya said that the first 8,000 copies of
Special Force, each selling for the equivalent of
$6.60, were snapped up within a week and that a second batch
of the CD-ROM games was selling briskly.
Not the first such game
is not the first computer game of its kind in the Arab world.
In 2000, a Syrian student created The Stone Throwers,
celebrating the Palestinian uprising against Israeli
occupation. A similar game, Under the Ashes, allows
Palestinians to target Israeli soldiers and
Jewish groups have dubbed the games racist,
but in Lebanon they are seen as no different from Western
games like Conflict: Desert Storm, an action-packed
game that depicts the 1991 Gulf War.