Germany bans three groups close to Hezbollah
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 organisation Hezbollah," his spokesman wrote in a tweet.
"Whoever supports terror will not be safe in Germany... They will find no refuge in our country."
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. Germany blacklisted the group last year, while Hezbollah insisted it was not active in the country.
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 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 Shiite group seems intent on refraining from an escalation.
Agencies contributed to this report.