Lebanon crisis

Germany bans three groups close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah

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The German government said Wednesday it is banning three groups close to Hezbollah, the Lebanese movement that opposes Israel, against the backdrop of the current military escalation in the Middle East.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer “has banned three groups that are financing the terrorist organization Hezbollah,” his spokesman wrote in a tweet.

“Whoever supports terror will not be safe in Germany... They will find no refuge in our country.”

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The interior ministry said that searches were currently under way in a number of different regional states in Germany.

According to German media reports, the operations had been carried in the states of Hamburg, Bremen, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.

Hezbollah is designated a terrorist group by Israel and much of the West.

Founded in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, it has grown into Iran’s main regional proxy with operatives in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The only Lebanese faction to have kept its weapons after the 1975-90 civil war, Hezbollah now has a more powerful arsenal than the Lebanese national army.

Israel’s deadly Gaza offensive has many eyes trained on the Lebanese border for a Hezbollah reaction, but observers argue the Iran-backed movement is unlikely to risk an all-out conflict.

Incidents at the border in recent days have raised the temperature but, with Lebanon already on its knees amid a deep political and economic crisis, the Shia group seems intent on refraining from an escalation.

In face of the renewed violence in the region, German authorities are concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism.

A pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin resulted in clashes and arrests.

Last week, Israeli flags were burned in front of synagogues in Bonn and Muenster.

“Our democracy will not tolerate anti-Semitic demonstrations,” the spokesman for Angela Merkel had said at the time.

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