update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

New Zealand declares entire Hamas organization a terror group

In a separate decision, Wellington announced travel bans on "a number of extremist Israeli settlers."

The flag of New Zealand. Credit: Liam Shaw/Unsplash.
The flag of New Zealand. Credit: Liam Shaw/Unsplash.

New Zealand has designated the entire Hamas organization as a terrorist group, its prime minister, Christopher Luxon, announced on Feb. 29.

While the armed wing of Hamas, known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was declared a terror group by New Zealand in 2010, its “political wing” had not been outlawed.

“The terrorist attacks by Hamas in October 2023 were brutal, and we have unequivocally condemned them,” Luxon said. 

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement that Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel “reinforces we can no longer distinguish between the military and political wings of Hamas.”

Wellington’s decision freezes any assets Hamas may have in New Zealand. It also makes it a criminal offense for New Zealanders to provide Hamas terrorists with funds or other forms of material support.

“New Zealand wants to be clear that the designation of Hamas is about the actions of an offshore terrorist entity and is not a reflection on the Palestinian people in Gaza and around the world,” Luxon stated, stressing that Thursday’s decision does not stop Wellington from providing “humanitarian support to Palestinian civilians” in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“Similarly, the designation does not stop New Zealand providing humanitarian and future development assistance to benefit civilians in Gaza, nor does it stop us providing consular support to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the conflict zone,” added the premier.

In a post on X, Israeli ambassador to New Zealand Ran Yaakoby thanked Wellington for designating Hamas terrorists “as what they all are” and condemning the “massacre of Israelis and foreigners” by Hamas and its terrorist allies.

Hamas started a war against the Jewish state on Oct. 7 when it led a mass invasion into southern Israel, murdering 1,200 people, wounding thousands and kidnapping 253 others. Widespread atrocities were reported, including rapes, beheadings and desecration of corpses.

‘A lie disconnected from reality’

In a separate decision on Thursday, the New Zealand government announced travel bans on “a number of extremist Israeli settlers who have committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Luxon said his government was “seriously concerned” by what he called a “significant increase” in violence perpetrated by Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria against Palestinians in recent months. “This is particularly destabilizing in what is already a major crisis,” he claimed.

Peter added that “settlements undermine the prospects for a viable two-state solution. Recent statements by some Israeli ministers about plans for further settlement construction are of serious concern and will raise tensions further between Israelis and Palestinians.”

According to IDF and Israel Police data, Jewish violence against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria has been steadily decreasing. Earlier this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called reports of growing “settler violence” a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that “there is no such concept as settler violence” in Judea and Samaria.

“There is nationalistic crime, but we are talking about a few incidents …We have great respect for the residents of Judea and Samaria. They are our brothers, and it is our job to ensure their safety,” the senior IDF officials told lawmakers during a closed-door meeting.

On Thursday afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israelis at a gas station outside the town of Eli in the Binyamin region of Samaria. 

The victims were identified as Yitzchak Zeiger, a 57-year-old father of three from Shavei Shomron, a village in northern Samaria; and Uria Hartum, a 16-year-old high-schooler from Dolev who had hitched a ride with Zeiger.

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