Britain to designate all of Hamas as a terrorist organization

Feature 20 November 2021
Britain to designate all of Hamas as a terrorist organization

Britain is to designate all of Hamas as a terrorist organization, British Home Secretary Priti Patel told reporters.

“We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side. It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself,” she said.

Patel added that proscribing Hamas would send a “very, very strong message to any individual that thinks that it’s OK to be a supporter of an organization such as that”.

She was to make a formal announcement on Friday (19 November) where she is expected to say in her speech: “Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence. But the current listing of Hamas creates an artificial distinction between various parts of the organisation – it is right that the listing is updated to reflect this. This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”

She called Hamas “fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic.” “Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online,” she said.

“Anyone who supports or invites support for a proscribed organization is breaking the law. That now includes Hamas in whatever form it takes,” Patel said.

She is expected to push through the legislative change in parliament next week. According to the proposed law change, showing support for Hamas, which included flying its flag, wearing clothes or facilitating meetings with Hamas members could face years in prison under the Terrorism Act 2000.

The British decision comes as Israel’s President Isaac Herzog will make an official visit London next week during which he will meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, members of Parliament and other dignitaries.

Until now, Britain has banned only Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

The move to ban the group entirely will bring the UK in line with the US, Canada, and the EU.

A branch of the Muslim Brotherhood

Founded in 1987, Hamas has been responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians, notably employing suicide bombers from the 1990s and 2000s.

Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and it has been firm and explicit in its rejection of any peace process and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

The central aim of Hamas is to establish an Islamic state in all the territory defined as ‘Palestine’ (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River) through armed struggle.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in 2006 kicking out the Palestinian Authority. Since then, they have intermittently launched thousands of rockets towards Israel.

Most recently, in a week-long conflict in May, Hamas fired over 4,000 rockets toward Israel.

The current Israeli government operates a policy of distinction that looks to empower moderate Palestinian political forces within the Palestinian Authority.

Israel welcomes the British move

In a tweet, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “Hamas is a terrorist organization, simply put.”

“Hamas is a radical Islamic group that targets innocent Israelis & seeks Israel’s destruction. I welcome the UK’s intention to declare Hamas a terrorist organization in its entirety — because that’s exactly what it is,” he said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that “there is no legitimate part of a terrorist organization, and any attempt to separate between parts of a terrorist organization is artificial”.

European Jewish Press