The UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that the British government will ban the Palestinian Islamic political group Hamas “in its entirety” as a terrorist organisation.
The military wing of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is already banned in the UK, and the current announcement will criminalise its political wing as well.
Britain is not the first country to outlaw Hamas as a terrorist group in its entirety, with the U.S., the European Union and Canada already having bans in place.
Patel said in a speech to the right-wing ‘Heritage Foundation’ think-tank in Washington, DC, claimed that the organisation was “involved in significant terrorist violence” and is “fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic”.
She said: “Today I have laid an order in the United Kingdom Parliament to amend Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to proscribe Hamas in its entirety – including its political wing. 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 that organisation – it is right that, that listing is updated to reflect this. This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic.
“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. This step will strengthen the case against anyone who waves a Hamas flag in the United Kingdom, an act that is bound to make Jewish people and the community feel unsafe…
“Anyone who supports or invites support for a proscribed organisation is breaking the law. That now includes Hamas in whatever form it takes.”
Patel told reporters in Washington: “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.”
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas political official said the move showed “absolute bias toward the Israeli occupation and is a submission to Israeli blackmail and dictations”.
In a separate statement, Hamas said: “The UK Government should have apologised for its historic sin against the Palestinian people in the shameless Balfour Declaration and the British mandate that handed Palestine to the Israeli occupation.
“Now, the UK Government sides with the aggressor against the victim. Resisting occupation, by all available means, including armed resistance, is a right guaranteed by international law to people under occupation.
“The occupation is terrorism. Killing the indigenous population, displacing them by force, demolishing their homes and imprisoning them is terrorism”, the statement read.
In 2017, Patel met with the then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-opposition leader Yair Lapid during her private visits to Israel. She was forced to resign as Britain’s International Development secretary after she failed to divulge the details of the meeting.
Lapid, now Israel’s Foreign Minister describes the UK’s decision to proscribe Hamas as a terrorist organisation as “part of strengthening ties with Britain.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted: “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.”
Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary supported the move, tweeting: “Hamas will be proscribed as a terrorist organisation. Important announcement by [Priti Patel] that will help tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”
Hamas was founded in 1987 and is against the existence of the occupying Israeli entity. The group won the parliamentary election in Gaza in 2006.