While some laud EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terror organization, others see it as woefully insufficient.

The European Union recently labeled Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, making the announcement in the wake of last year’s Burgas Terror Attack, which killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian and injured dozens more. The Bulgarian government claims that Hezbollah was responsible for this terror attack and a Hezbollah operative was arrested in Cyprus while planning another terrorist attack on European soil.

Observers point to Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war as the straw that broke the camel’s back — as Hezbollah’s atrocities upset European governments. As one Syrian refugee reported, “Iranian and Hezbollah fighters came into our neighborhood with their swords drawn. The women they found, they raped. They burned our homes. I saw maybe 100 women stripped naked and used as human shields, forced to walk on all sides of the army tanks during the fighting. When their tanks rolled back into the Alawite neighborhood, the women disappeared with them.” It was incidents such as this that also prompted Bahrain to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.The EU responded likewise, designating Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. Yet observers ask if the international community can afford to view the military and political wings of Hezbollah as separate entities. “Israel sees Hezbollah as a unified organization with no distinction between its wings,” says Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. While viewing the EU decision as a step in the right direction, Israeli government spokespeople maintain that such an arbitrary split between the military and political wings fails to recognize the reality on the ground.

Since Hezbollah is known as a highly secretive organization, insiders say it will be extremely difficult on a practical level to distinguish between Hezbollah funds designated for military uses verses those dedicated to running hospitals, clinics, housing, utilities, schools, and charitable foundations, many of which support the families of dead fighters. As such, they argue that sanctions against Hezbollah’s military wing are unrealistic at best.

As the Institute for National Security Studies reports, “In order for the EU to implement any asset freezes or transfer bans, it will be necessary to demonstrate that the suspect funds are designated specifically for Hezbollah’s military wing and not its social or political services.” This creates “substantial practical obstacles to the operational implementation of the decision. Furthermore, designating Hezbollah’s military wing should not have any negative effect on the EU’s capacity to meet and interact with Hezbollah members (CP931 does not prohibit such exchanges), nor should it affect the organization’s members freedom of travel.”

Furthermore, the Institute for National Security Studies reports, “The EU’s labeling of Hezbollah’s military wing does not constitute a watershed event for either the EU or Hezbollah.” The leadership of Bnei Brith Canada, for these reasons, argues that the EU has taken a step backwards by labeling only Hezbollah’s military wing, and not the organization in its entirety. “While some may view this as a positive step, giving false legitimacy to Hezbollah’s supposedly non-violent wings only serves to weaken international efforts to combat terror and strengthens Iran’s global ambitions,” says its CEO Frank Dimant. “Hezbollah must be recognized as one organization with one main leader sharing terrorism as its common goal. Until the EU recognizes Hezbollah as the world’s premier terror entity, under the control of the Mullahs of Iran, this latest compromise will only cost more innocent lives.”

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel