Over 90 charities were raided this past week by German law enforcement as part of a massive operation to shutter non-for-profits it said were funneling money to the Hamas terror group.
Armed SWAT teams descended on the properties in over ten different states, with the majority of police activities targeting the charities WWR Help and Ansaar International in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.
Interior Minister Hort Seehofer said that the raids were meant to show that Germany would not let Hamas, an EU-designated terror group, raise funds on German soil.
“Whoever supports Hamas under the mantle of providing humanitarian aid disregards the fundamental values of our constitution,” Seehofer said. “ This also discredits the commitment of the many aid organizations that have committed themselves to neutrality under difficult circumstances.”
Founded in 1986, the Islamist Hamas terror group has killed hundreds of Israeli citizens and currently controls the Gaza Strip. In addition to its armed wing, the group also runs a large social welfare network with schools, soup kitchens, day-care activities, and orphanages being run under its auspices.
To fund its vast social wing, Hamas runs a network of Muslim charities all over the world, enabling it to easily raise money without police interference. Israel notes that money used for charitable purposes also funds Hamas terror activity and has pressured countries all over the world to crack down on the organization’s activities.
Hamas’ use of ostensible charitable organizations to raise money can be seen in the Dusseldorf-based Ansaar International that was raided this past week. Founded in 2012, it calls itself an aid organization carrying out projects “for the good of Allah.” According the organization, it provides vital health services in Gaza, including clean water and sanitation, orphanages and education to the needy. Yet German police say that the funds raised by the group were instead going to train armed fighters to attack Israel.
Observers said that Germany has let such groups flourish in recent years and has refused to crack down on them despite frequent Israeli pleas to intervene. Benjamin Weinthal, a research fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Jerusalem Post that the raids were “long overdue.”
“Germany has a very lax policy toward Islamic jihadi organizations in the country,” said Weinthal. “The next step in my view should be to outlaw the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).”