MLITA, Lebanon—Hezbollah has opened its first permanent museum atop a wooded hill here that was strategic territory in a 2006 war with Israel, the latest step in the group’s evolution from a band of militants to an established political force in Lebanon.
Since its birth in 1982 as an Islamic militia fighting Israel’s invasion of the country, Hezbollah has transformed itself into a powerful military, political and social organization. It controls a large swath of southern Lebanon, much of the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut.
After taking over areas of Beirut in May 2008 in an armed conflict with the Western-backed government, Hezbollah worked out a deal that paved the way for peaceful elections last year.
Those elections cemented the arrival of the group—still designated a terrorist group by the U.S.—in Lebanon’s political establishment. It now has 13 seats in parliament and fields two cabinet ministers in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. On June 8, Mr. Hariri met for the first time in two years with Hassan Nasrallah, the elusive leader of Hezbollah.