Hezbollah brings Israel war to computer screen

Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:37am EDT

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By Tom Perry

BEIRUT Aug 16 (Reuters) - Raid Israel to capture soldiers, battle tanks in the valleys of south Lebanon and launch Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns -- a new Hezbollah computer game puts players on the frontline of war with the Jewish state.

"Special Force 2" is based on last year's 34-day conflict between the Lebanese guerrilla group and Israel.

"This game presents the culture of the resistance to children: that occupation must be resisted and that land and the nation must be guarded," Hezbollah media official Sheikh Ali Daher said.

Designed by Hezbollah computer experts, players of "Special Force 2" take the role of a Hezbollah fighter, or Mujahid. Weapons and points are accumulated by killing Israeli soldiers.

The game, launched on Thursday, recreates key phases of the conflict, which was triggered when Hezbollah raided northern Israel and captured two soldiers, saying they wanted to negotiate a prisoner swap.

Hezbollah takes huge pride in its military performance in the war, which killed 158 Israelis, mainly soldiers. Some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Lebanon.

Israel says Hezbollah was weakened in the conflict, in which the group was forced out of its strongholds along the Israeli border and an expanded international peacekeeping force deployed in southern Lebanon under a U.N.-brokered ceasefire.

A Shi'ite Muslim group backed by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah declared the outcome of the conflict as a "divine victory".

"Through this game the child can build an idea of some of ... the most prominent battles and the idea that this enemy can be defeated," Daher said.

Retailing at around $10 in Lebanon and produced by volunteers, Hezbollah is expecting strong demand for the game at home and abroad. Hundreds of copies have been reserved in advance in Lebanon.

The 3-D game forces players to think and use their resources wisely, reflecting the way Hezbollah fights, Daher said. "The features which are the secret of resistance's victory in the south, have moved to this game so that the child can understand that fighting the enemy does not only require the gun.

"It requires readiness, supplies, armament, attentiveness, tactics."

((Editing by Stephen Weeks; Reuters Messaging: Thomas.Perry.reuters.com@reuters.net; thomas.perry@reuters.com)) Keywords: LEBANON HEZBOLLAH/GAME

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