UK plans to ban Hamas as terror group

UK Home Sec Priti Patel plans to ban Hamas under UK Terrorism Act
3 min read
19 November, 2021
Supporters of both the group's military and political will face up to 14 years in prison under the UK Terrorism Act if the move is approved by parliament.
Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to announce plans to designate Hamas’ political wing as a terrorist organisation after lambasting it as “fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic”.

Currently, only the Palestinian faction’s military wing is proscribed as such, but in a speech later today at the right-wing Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, Patel will announce a ban on the entire organisation and aims to push through the change in Parliament next week.

The ban means supporters of the group can face up to 14 years in prison under the UK Terrorism Act. According to UK Law, supporting Hamas may include wearing clothes that suggest support for the organisation, arranging meetings for or with its members, or publishing images of its flag or logo.

Hamas has already been designated an outlawed terrorist organisation by the US, Canada and the EU, meaning that its assets can be seized and its members jailed.

Patel told reporters in Washington DC: “We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side”.

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“It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself”, she added.

In her speech, Patel is expected to say: “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".

The move has been welcomed by Israeli leaders, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who described the move as “part of strengthening ties with Britain”.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly raised the issue of widening the Hamas ban with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the COP26 Conference earlier this month.

Patel has a long pro-Israel track record and was forced to resign as Britain’s international development secretary in 2017 after it emerged that she met with senior Israeli officials, including then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while on holiday in Israel without telling the Foreign Office.

Hamas, which has ruled over the Gaza strip since 2006, has fought three wars with Israel.  In their most recent confrontation, Israel's bombing of the coastal enclave killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 66 children.

Gaza – home to more than two million people – remains under siege, with Israel retaining effective control over its borders, economy, and airspace.

The UK government has done little to address Israel's alleged war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. Instead, it has restricted criticism of Israel to statements coupled with no policy action, drawing accusations of bias in its treatment of the parties to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in favour of Israel, accusations likely to intensify following the ban on Hamas.