German Government Bans All Wings of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

(Bloomberg) -- Germany has banned the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah from operating in the country, citing the organization’s anti-Israel stance.

The police early Thursday raided properties belonging to associations linked to Hezbollah in five German cities including Berlin and Dortmund, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Hezbollah’s military arm has long been banned in Germany, though the group had been allowed to pursue political and social activities.

“Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that’s carried out numerous attacks and kidnappings around the world,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a tweet. The fact that it questions Israel’s right to exist “means that we have a responsibility to do all we can to oppose it.”

The U.K. took similar measures last year, declaring that Hezbollah’s non-military activities would also be considered a terrorist threat.

While discussions have previously taken place with European Union partners, Germany made the move on its own, as a change of the bloc’s stance on Hezbollah has been opposed by some member states, according to a person close to the matter.

Israel’s parliament speaker, Benny Gantz, hailed Germany’s move as “a significant step in the global fight against terrorism.”

Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran in its conflict with Israel and is trained and armed by the Islamic Republic. Its military wing waged an 18-year campaign to expel Israeli forces that had occupied southern Lebanon before withdrawing in 2000. Hezbollah and Israel fought each other to a draw in a monthlong war in 2006.

The group’s paramilitary wing is the most powerful armed force in Lebanon, and has backed Syrian government forces in that country’s civil war. Its political arm is a power broker in Lebanon just as the country needs a major financial bailout.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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