IMAGE: Northern Band performs
Mohammed Ballas  /  AP file
Northern Band singer Alaa Abu al-Haija, 28, performs the "Hawk of Lebanon" song, which praises Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah at a wedding in the West Bank village of Al-Sawiya on Aug. 23.
updated 8/25/2006 1:14:42 PM ET 2006-08-25T17:14:42

They were struggling in a boy band, working the West Bank wedding circuit and dreaming of stardom.

Now the five singers who make up the Northern Band have come a little closer to their goal, with help from an unwitting ally — Hezbollah guerrilla chief Hassan Nasrallah.

At the height of the Israel-Hezbollah war, the band wrote new lyrics, in praise of Nasrallah, for an old tune. The “Hawk of Lebanon” song tapped into Nasrallah’s huge popularity among Palestinians and became an instant hit.

The song is being played on Arab TV networks, used as a ring tone for cell phones, passed around on e-mail and distributed on pirate CDs and tapes. Music stores have trouble keeping up with demand, in part because Israeli soldiers have confiscated some Nasrallah tapes and CDs at checkpoints.

New profits
Basking in its newfound success, the band has doubled its fee per performance to $230. At a recent wedding in the town of Ramallah, the band was asked to play the Nasrallah song six times.

Lead singer and manager Alaa Abu al-Haija, 28, said he gives the audiences what they want to hear. “I see people turning toward Islam, so I have to sing to that,” said Alaa, sitting in the living room of his family’s two-story house in the northern West Bank village of Yamoun.

The lyrics consist of constant repetition of a few simple rhymes: “Hey, you, hawk of Lebanon. Hey, you, Nasrallah. Your men are from Hezbollah and victory is yours with God’s help.”

Alaa and his two younger brothers and band partners — Nour, 25, and Mohammed, 22 — are already working on the next song about Nasrallah. Alaa also wrote the Hamas election song, to the same tune as the Nasrallah anthem, but it never reached the same popularity.

For some, inflammatory music
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the song is considered inflammatory and that tapes and CDs containing it will be confiscated. He said police in and around Jerusalem have found no copies of the song so far, but that officers have searched music stores and are on the lookout for contraband.

IMAGE: West Bank vendor
Nasser Shiyoukhi  /  AP file
A vendor sells CDs of popular songs performed by Palestinian singers, including the "Hawk of Lebanon" by the Northern Band, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Aug. 8.
Palestinian society is divided, with some pledging loyalty to the Islamic militant group Hamas, which took power in March, and others backing the Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, Hezbollah fever appears to have united the Palestinians, who feel deep resentment toward Israel after 39 years of military occupation, including harsh restrictions on travel, commerce and other aspects of daily life. Many admire Hezbollah for holding off Israel’s mighty army — similar to the popular support enjoyed by then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein when he fired Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

“We used to sing for Saddam,” said Saed Akrawi, 26, whose perfume shop in downtown Jenin is adorned with a Nasrallah portrait, next to posters of models. “Saddam is gone. We want someone else to sing for.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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