Report: Palestinian Security Forces Arrest 5 Members of Iran-Backed West Bank Group
Palestinian Authority security forces arrested five Palestinians in Bethlehem on charges they were helping set up terrorist infrastructure for an Iranian-backed group in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.
The suspects were doing this for the Gaza-based Shiite group, A-Sabrin, to carry out attacks against Israelis, according to a PA security source speaking to Israel Radio.
They were arrested two weeks ago, according to the report.
The Gaza-based leader of the group, Hisham Salem, recently confirmed that the group was in fact operating in the West Bank and would soon receive financial and military assistance.
According to the Times of Israel, A-Sabrin was founded in 2014 and runs an extensive charity network in Gaza — similar to the beginnings of Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon — fully funded by Iran.
Although the group’s Shiite identity in predominantly Sunni Gaza reportedly led to some clashes with Salafist groups, A-Sabrin claims its message is of Palestinian unity against Israel. A spokesman from the group was quoted by the Lebanese outlet, Al Akhabr, as saying: “We believe in Islamic unity and we reject any sectarian discourse. Whoever raises this issue serves our enemies the Zionists and the global arrogance that stands behind it which seeks to fragment and divide this nation.”
The group also rejected allegations that it was connected to Lebanese Hezbollah, according to Al Akhbar.