UK officially bans Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist group

In move announced last week and hailed by Israel, Britain says members of Hamas or those who support it could be jailed for up to 14 years

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Children talk with masked militants from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of Hamas, hold their national flags while marching along the streets of Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Friday, May 28, 2021. Arabic on the headband reads "No God but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger, al-Qassam Brigades". (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Source: Times of Israel, November 26, 2021

Britain on Friday designated all of Hamas an “Islamist terrorist group,” warning that its members and those who support the group could face stiff jail terms.

The move had been announced last week, and was hailed by Israel. It followed similar action by the United States and the European Union.

The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the group that rules the Gaza Strip, has been banned in Britain since 2001 but the interior ministry has now extended the ban to its political entities as well.

London said last week it was no longer possible to make a distinction, assessing that Hamas “commits, participates in, prepares for and promotes and encourages terrorism.

“The Islamist terrorist group Hamas has today become a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK in its entirety following parliament’s approval,” the Home Office said. “This means that members of Hamas or those who invite support for the group could be jailed for up to 14 years.”

Israel has praised the United Kingdom’s move. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last Friday thanked UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Members of the armed wing of Hamas parade in Gaza City on June 7, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

“This is an important and significant decision that gives British security bodies additional tools to prevent the continued buildup of the Hamas terror organization, including in Britain,” Lapid said. “There is no legitimate part to a terror organization and any attempt to separate parts of a terror organization is artificial.”

The decision was also cheered by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“Hamas is a terror organization, plain and simple. The ‘political wing’ enables its military activity. The same terrorists — only in suits,” Bennett tweeted.

Bennett thanked his counterpart, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for his “leadership on the subject.”

Patel said the group “has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”

She added that “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that the move “will help tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”

Patel said the 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 feel unsafe.”

Illustrative: Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014. (AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Both the United States and European Union have designated Hamas a terror organization. The terror group, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, has initiated multiple wars with Israel in the past decade and fired thousands of rockets at civilian cities.