Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Iranian-Backed Group Arrested in Bethlehem | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Al-Sabirin Hezbollah-inspired flag

Al-Sabirin Hezbollah-inspired flag

Al-Sabirin Hezbollah-inspired flag

Ramallah- Palestinian security forces in the West Bank managed to abort an attempt on establishing an infrastructure for the “Al-Sabirin [The Patient] for the Victory of Palestine.”. The movement is present in Gaza and is known for its direct affiliation with the Iranian regime.

Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that five activists affiliated with the newly-founded movement in Bethlehem, located east of the West Bank, were arrested. They had received funds from “Al-Sabirin” in Gaza, and are presumed to harbor intentions of establishing movement units in the West Bank.

Sources clarified that this is not the first time the Iranian government has attempted to form armed factions in the West Bank. During the Second Intifada, they tried to support militant factions via the Lebanese Hezbollah, yet they failed.

“Al-Sabirin” is a movement that was launched in Gaza, over two years ago. Hisham Salem, founder of the movement, is an ex-Islamic Jihad leader and one of those who broke away from their factions to launch movements supported by Iran.

It is believed that the arrested activists in Bethlehem belong to families who had previously converted to Shi’itism. Moreover, Salem did not hide the presence of “Al-Sabirin” agents in both the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Salem said that he had received full-on support from the Iranian government, just the way Hezbollah did. Salem clarified that his movement is not a Shi’ite one; however Palestinians, especially in Gaza, found his declaration hard to believe.

Sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iranian support flowing in for “Al-Sabirin” clearly defines the orientation of the movement.

Many consider Salem a mere Iranian proxy promoting Shi’itism across the Gaza Strip. Other Islamic movements and the Salafists had broadcasted several times videos in which events and rituals relevant to the Shi’ite sect being held in Gaza. What makes accusations real for observers, is the YouTube videos showing Salem talking about historical events that are important to Shi’ites, such as the battle of Karbala and the killing of Imam Hussein.

Palestinians are concerned that movements like “Al-Sabirin” will lead to an outbreak of sectarian strife in the Gaza Strip.