(November 19, 2021 / JNS) United Kingdom’s Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that she is seeking to declare the entire Hamas organization as a terrorist group.
While the military wing of Hamas, known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is currently declared a terror group by the United Kingdom, its political wing is not.
Patel said that parliament will add the designation next week, which Jewish groups have long called for.
Under U.K. law, it is a criminal offense to belong to or invite support for a proscribed organization or wear clothing which could be to support the group, which carries a maximum of 14 years in prison, the BBC reported.
“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities,” Patel said in a statement. “That is why today I have acted to proscribe Hamas in its entirety.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the decision, saying “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.”
Hamas denounced the move by the United Kingdom, saying: “Instead of apologizing and correcting its historical sin against the Palestinian people … [Britain] supports the aggressors at the expense of the victims.” It was apparently referring to the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate, which it said handed “Palestinian lands to the Zionist movement.”
‘It brings the U.K. into line with our allies’
Nevertheless, the decision was warmly welcomed by pro-Israel and Jewish British groups.
“Christians United for Israel UK (CUFI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that the U.K. government is to ban the so-called political wing of Hamas under the Terrorism Act,” said CUFI UK’s executive director Des Starritt.
“Hamas does not differentiate between its military and political wings when it indiscriminately targets civilian populations with rockets, uses human shields, recruits children and conducts hostage-taking. Nor does it differentiate when it oppresses Christians and other minorities,” said Starritt.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that “full proscription ends the dangerous loophole via which Hamas can spread its extremist poison here, and raise funds and support in the U.K. We thank the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Government for this decisive action in tackling extremism.”
Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “We thank the Home Secretary for listening and taking this action to outlaw support for Hamas, which seeks the genocide of all Jews worldwide. Proscription of Hamas in full shows British Jews that the government stands firm against those who seek to harm us, and it also brings the U.K. into line with our allies.”
Falter noted that during the recent surge in anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, there were “numerous examples of people wearing the Hamas emblem and even the Hamas-style headband traditionally worn by its suicide bombers.”
“The Home Secretary’s announcement tells Islamists in this country and abroad in no uncertain terms that anti-Semitic terror and its supporters have no place in decent society and now they can be prosecuted if they peddle their hatred in Britain. Today is a good day in the fight against anti-Semitism.”
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