US Congress looks to increase sanctions on Hezbollah
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US Congress looks to increase sanctions on Hezbollah

Lawmakers want to bar supporters of the terror group from entering US, keep tabs on Iran's financial aid and block criminal activities

A Hezbollah fighter is seen standing at attention in an orange field near the town of Naqura on the Lebanese-Israeli border on April 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID)
A Hezbollah fighter is seen standing at attention in an orange field near the town of Naqura on the Lebanese-Israeli border on April 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID)

US lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to strengthen sanctions against the Hezbollah terror group.

The proposed law, which is an amendment to existing sanctions, was introduced by Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, the Reuters news agency reported.

The new law would impose sanctions on banks and institutions that work with the terrorist organization, as well as limit its ability to recruit and raise money.

The revised sanctions would “bar anyone found to be supporting the group from entering the United States, require the president to report to Congress on whether Iranian financial institutions are facilitating its transactions and impose blocking sanctions on the group for criminal activities,” Reuters reported.

“These sanctions will severely limit Hezbollah’s financial network and transnational criminal activities, as well as crack down its backers, most importantly Iran,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from California and one of the authors of the legislation.

On Tuesday, the Israeli army released two videos which it said showed Hezbollah fighters operating in south Lebanon, which it is banned from doing under the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war.

On Wednesday US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Hezbollah of amassing weapons and said the world must turn its attention to the actions of the powerful terror group.

“Ambassador Haley expressed alarm over the build-up of weapons by Hezbollah, a situation that demands the international community’s attention to prevent the further escalation of regional tensions,” said a statement by the US mission.

She stressed that the international community must “apply more pressure on Hezbollah to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel.”

According to Israeli assessments, Hezbollah has significantly built up its weapons stockpile since the 2006 war and has upgraded its arsenal to more than 100,000 missiles.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese militia designated by the United States to be a terrorist group and is seen as a proxy for Iran. It was founded with the support of Iran following the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and Hezbollah and Iran are now helping to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, where a civil war continues to rage.

JTA contributed to this report.

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