Israel applauded the German federal government’s “important decision” to ban the Hezbollah terrorist organization in its entirety and take action against the group’s activity in Germany.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
Federal Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer banned the operations of the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah in Germany, his press secretary said on Thursday.
The order prohibits any contact with anyone acting on behalf of the organization and does not differentiate between its various arms – military, political or social. The order bans any use of the organization’s symbols and decrees that any assets that Hezbollah may have in Germany will be seized.
“Police measures are underway in several federal states concurrently since the early hours of the morning. The rule of law can also act in times of crisis,” he stated, referring to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
German media reported that the police conducted raids on four mosque associations in Berlin, Dortmund, Bremen and Münster suspected of belonging to Hezbollah.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz welcomed the move as a “very important decision” and a “valuable and significant step in the global fight against terrorism.”
He expressed his “deepest appreciation to the German government for this step,” adding “that many governments in the Middle East, as well as the thousands of victims of Hezbollah’s terror, join in thanking them for this decision.”
He called on other European countries and the European Union to join and adopt this policy by designating Hezbollah, including its military and political arms, a terrorist organization, and “treat[ing] it as such.”
“We welcome this extremely significant and meaningful step by Germany in combating international terror,” Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff stated.
German authorities estimate that some 1,050 people in Germany are active members of the Lebanese terror group.
Any Hezbollah Activity Now a Crime
Authorities can now punish any Hezbollah activity in Germany under criminal law.
For example, anyone waving Hezbollah flags at demonstrations or showing posters with symbols can be sent to prison for up to a year. The flag is frequently seen on “Al-Quds-Tag” (Jerusalem Day) demonstrations, held annually in Berlin, during which the marchers call for an “Islamic liberation” of Jerusalem.
After months of debate, the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, in December 2019 decided to designate Hezbollah a terror organization and ban all of the group’s activities in Germany.
Germany had previously distinguished between Hezbollah’s military wing, which was banned, and its political wing, which was not.
Prior to the parliament’s vote, only Hezbollah’s military-wing was banned, in line with the European Union’s position. A comprehensive ban on all the terror group’s activities in the EU was rejected, however, mainly due to opposition by France.
Germany has long been a primary base for Hezbollah financing and money-laundering activities. Several influential Lebanese family clans have been linked to Hezbollah with income from illegal activities reportedly funneled to Beirut.
Hezbollah reportedly also finances itself through the cocaine trade in Germany, laundering money for Latin American drug-smuggling gangs.
In this move, Germany joins Israel, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Japan in banning Hezbollah in its entirety.