Middle East

Israel outlaws «Iran-funded» Palestinian group

Israel announced Monday it had outlawed a Palestinian group it says acted as a front for Iran-directed militant activities targeting Israelis and the regime of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L), pictured on May 25 2016 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), has signed the recommendation to outlaw the group Al-Hirak Al-Shababi ©Menahem Kahana (AFP/File)
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L), pictured on May 25 2016 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), has signed the recommendation to outlaw the group Al-Hirak Al-Shababi ©Menahem Kahana (AFP/File) ()

JERUSALEM - Israel announced Monday it had outlawed a Palestinian group it says acted as a front for Iran-directed militant activities targeting Israelis and the regime of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed the order outlawing Al-Hirak Al-Shababi ("the youth movement") at the recommendation of the Shin Bet internal security agency, a ministry statement read.

The decision followed "significant information indicating that the group is directed by Hezbollah 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 read.

While the group claimed to be a collective of youths seeking to change the situation in the West Bank through civil activity, it was in fact "a terror group headed by two opponents of the Palestinian Authority", the statement read.

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

Members of Al-Hirak Al-Shababi were engaged in firebombing and bombing attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as stirring unrest on the volatile Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the city.

The group's goals included "toppling the regime of (Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas) and collapsing the Palestinian Authority".

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

"Exposing the organisation, the extent of its activity and true goals shows once again the efforts of Iran and Hezbollah to advance terror activity against Israel," the defence ministry statement read.