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Israel Bans Palestinian Youth Group As Front For Iran, Hizballah

  • RFE/RL

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israel has announced that it has outlawed a Palestinian group that allegedly acted as a front for Iran in directing militant attacks against Israelis and the government of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed an order banning Al-Hirak Al-Shababi at the recommendation of the Shin Bet internal security agency, the ministry said on July 11.

Israeli intelligence found "significant information indicating that the group is directed by Hizballah and Iran to carry out attacks against Israelis and ignite a wave of violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem at Israel and the Palestinian Authority," it said.

While the group claims to be a collective of youths seeking to change the situation in the West Bank through civil activity, it is in fact "a terror group headed by two opponents of the Palestinian Authority," the ministry said.

Israel's army sees the Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hizballah as its main enemy, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers Iran to be the region's main destabilizing element.

"Exposing the organization, the extent of its activity, and true goals shows once again the efforts of Iran and Hizballah to advance terror activity against Israel," the ministry said.

Members of the organization were said to be behind many incidents of Molotov cocktail throwing and attempted bombings using improvised explosive devices, as well as attempts to sabotage the Jerusalem light rail system and foment riots on the Temple Mount.

The ministry named the group's leaders as Munir Asli, living in Lebanon, and Hilmi Balbisi, living in Jordan. It said they are "directed and funded by Hizballah and Iran," both of which have allegedly transferred "hundreds of thousands of shekels" over the past two years to fund the group's activities.

Besides engaging in firebombing and bombing attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem, members of Al-Hirak Al-Shababi have allegedly sought to stir unrest at the volatile Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the city.

The group's goals include "toppling the Abbas regime and collapsing the Palestinian Authority," the Israeli ministry said.

In April, Palestinian security forces arrested what they described as a terror cell associated with the Al-Shababi group that was planning a terror attack against Israelis. Rifles, grenades, and large amounts of ammunition were found in their possession.

Israeli officials said large groups of young people from Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem have been regularly flying to Lebanon and Tunisia over the last two years, under the pretense of participating in human rights conferences.

Shin Bet found that those trips were often a cover for meetings with Al-Shababi leaders, as well as with Iranian representatives and Hizballah operatives.

With reporting by AFP and Israel National News
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