Women under 'Raze Tel Aviv' sign, Lebanon 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – Israeli diplomats traveled recently to Berlin and presented court
documents showing Hezbollah’s role in terrorism within the European
The meticulous documentation collected by Israeli officials played
a critical role in changing attitudes among German foreign ministry officials
who were reluctant to include Hezbollah in the EU’s terror list.
delegation’s trip to Berlin was reported last week on the blog of the daily Die
newspaper. The paper’s foreign-policy editor wrote the Israeli file contained
three decades of German court verdicts covering Hezbollah.
took over the role of doing the homework for the federal government,” wrote the
The Israelis presented a wide range of Hezbollah illicit and
terrorist activity in the Federal Republic, including the Mykonos trial in
Berlin and recent administrative court rulings expelling Hezbollah members from
A Berlin criminal court convicted in 1997 four men for the 1992
murders of dissident Iranian-Kurdish leaders in the Greek restaurant Mykonos in
West Berlin. The court asserted that the executions were carried out by the
“highest state levels” in Tehran. Prosecutors said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
Iran’s supreme leader, and then-Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani ordered the
The Mykonos killings were a joint Iran-Hezbollah
Israeli efforts to persuade the Germans to sanction Hezbollah
provide a rare window into the so-called German- Israeli special relationship
and the clashing views of what constitutes terrorism and threats to the Jewish
The Merkel administration has long vehemently rejected Israel’s
request to ban Hezbollah from the EU. Last week, German diplomats issued a
statement reversing the country’s longstanding policy toward the Lebanese
Shi’ite militia: “In the light of discussions we have had with our partners
following the terrorist attack in Burgas [in Bulgaria], Foreign Minister Guido
Westerwelle supports listing at least the military wing of Hezbollah as a
terrorist organization in the EU.”
The statement continued, “The German
position is based on an increasingly clearer picture of the facts and on the
progress achieved by Cypriot authorities in analyzing terrorist activities.
Minister Westerwelle hopes that the necessary consultations within the EU can be
Bulgaria’s interior ministry said in February that
two Hezbollah combatants killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver last
July. A criminal court in Cyprus convicted in March a self-confessed Hezbollah
member for plotting to murder Israelis on the island.
The EU is slated to
discuss a ban of Hezbollah’s armed wing at an early June meeting in
The most recent Israeli visit to Germany followed an earlier
whirlwind tour of major European capitals. The Jerusalem Post
reported in January that Israel revealed documentary material about Hezbollah’s
role in destabilizing Syria and joining forces with Bashar Assad’s regime to
wipe out opposition groups. Hezbollah’s narcotics and money-laundering
operations were also part of Israel’s dossier.
The case of Hezbollah’s
2000 kidnapping of Elhanan Tannenbaum was cited in Israel’s documentation.
Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman and a reserve colonel in the IDF, was
released as part of a prisoner exchange in 2004. The Germans had previously
raised concerns that Hezbollah would challenge a ban in European courts based on
insufficient evidence. The second wave of Israeli documentation, which centered
on court cases implicating Hezbollah in European terrorism, seems to have been
the tipping point for the Germans.
Hezbollah has used German territory to
raise funds for the families of suicide bombers involved in killing Israelis. A
2009 report from the European Foundation for Democracy, titled Hizbullah’s
Fund-raising Organization in Germany, revealed that the Orphans Project Lebanon
(Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V.), situated in Göttingen, Lower Saxony, is “the
German branch of a Hezbollah suborganization” that “promotes suicide bombings”
and aims to destroy Israel.
The Federal Republic still allows the
Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V. to operate but eliminated its tax subsidy
several years ago.
Germany has a large Hezbollah organization on its
soil. According to a German domestic-intelligence agency, there are an estimated
950 members as of 2011. It is unclear if Germany’s interior ministry will evict
Hezbollah members from Germany and shut down the Hezbollah-controlled Orphans
Project Lebanon.The Post
has learned that Hans-Peter Friedrich,
Germany’s interior minister, favors a robust crackdown on Hezbollah, in contrast
to the Foreign Ministry.
Friedrich’s predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble banned
reception of Hezbollah Al-Manar TV in hotels in 2008. The partial ban, however,
did not apply to residences.
France has outlawed all Al- Manar
programming because of anti- Semitism.