German Jewish leaders praise country for designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization


(JTA) – Jewish community leaders in Germany are praising the country’s designation of both the political and military wings of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The announcement of a ban on all Hezbollah activities in Germany came Thursday from Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and was followed immediately by a German police raid on four Shiite Islamic groups connected with Hezbollah.

Also Thursday, the office of the Berlin Senator of the Interior, Andreas Geisel, announced on Twitter that the annual Al-Quds march, scheduled for mid-May and which Hezbollah affiliates often attend, would be canceled this year, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“Hezbollah openly calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of the State of Israel to exist,” Seehofer said.

Hezbollah is “fundamentally against the concept of international understanding, regardless of whether it presents itself as a political, social or military structure,” he added.

On Friday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany said the move was “overdue.”

“Germany is no longer allowed to offer a haven to supporters of an Islamist organization that – driven by a deep hatred of Jews – incites people to violence and finances terror,”said Josef Schuster, the council president.

Schuster also urged Germany to push for a total European Union ban on the group. In 2013, the EU designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but not its political wing.

In a tweet, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, called the move “an extremely important and meaningful step in the fight against international terrorism.”

David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said Friday that Germany’s move was “welcome, much-anticipated, and significant.”

Germany’s intelligence agency estimates that there are as many as 1,050 members active in Hezbollah-related groups nationwide. The ban notes that while these individuals mostly avoid drawing attention, some “openly declare their support on websites and in social media.”

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