Germany bans pro-Hamas activity, dissolves group that celebrated attack on Israel

Country vows to come down hard on those who voice support for Palestinian terrorism amid efforts to halt dramatic spike in antisemitism

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser speaks during a press conference in Berlin, October 9, 2023. (AP/Stefanie Loos)
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser speaks during a press conference in Berlin, October 9, 2023. (AP/Stefanie Loos)

Germany’s top security official has implemented a formal ban on activity by or in support of Hamas and will dissolve a group that was behind a celebration of the terror organization’s devastating surprise onslaught against on Israel.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Thursday morning that she is putting the ban on activity related to Hamas, which is already listed by the European Union as a terrorist group, into effect today.

“With Hamas, I have today completely banned the activities of a terrorist organization whose aim is to destroy the state of Israel,” she said in a statement.

She announced that she is also dissolving the German branch of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, which she said “supports and glorifies” groups including Hamas.

Samidoun was behind an October 7 action in which a group of people handed out pastries in a Berlin street in celebration of Hamas’s attack, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israel.

That same day, Samidoun published a “Calendar of Resistance for Palestine” on its website, with links to celebratory events around the world and a call for “all Palestinian, Arab and international supporters of Palestine to escalate their organizing and struggle to stand with the heroic Palestinian resistance and confront colonial Zionist violence and imperialist complicity.”

Faeser said her ministry had worked “day and night” in order to implement the ban against Hamas activity and the dissolution of Samidoun quickly.

A protester displays a placard calling for the end of Zionism during a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rally in Frankfurt, Germany on October 14, 2023, following the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz previously announced his government’s plan to take action against Hamas and Samidoun on October 12.

In response to Scholz, Samidoun released a statement in which it accused the German government of being “partners not only in the defamation and dehumanization of the Palestinian people but the murderous war crimes and crimes against humanity of the occupation regime.

“The Palestinian people’s will to live in freedom, to resist their occupier, and to obtain their rights will not be killed by murderous bombing raids or German political repression,” the group added.

Following the massacre on October 7 and the launching of an offensive by Israel with the goal of eradicating Hamas and destroying its infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, Germany has seen a spike in antisemitic incidents, and the decision to ban the two groups is one of several measures being put in place to combat it.

In one instance, a Berlin synagogue was firebombed, and there were several reported instances of Star of David symbols being painted on the homes of Jewish residents in Berlin.

On October 25, Faeser announced that a new law proposed in the German parliament would seek to prevent those who have committed acts of antisemitism from ever gaining citizenship, and promised that those who displayed support for Hamas would be “prosecuted with the full force of the law.”

At least 12 German citizens are among the over 240 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, and several others were killed during the rampage.

Among those killed was German-Israeli citizen Shani Louk, who had been at a rave near the Gaza border where some 260 partygoers were mowed down by terrorists.

On October 7, a widely circulated video showed Louk being paraded around the Gaza Strip, face down in the back of a pickup truck filled with armed men.

While it seemed highly unlikely that she was alive at the time the video was filmed, her family back in Germany continued to hold out hope until October 30, when a fragment of her skull was identified and her death was finally confirmed.

On Germany’s western border, France has also been working to minimize pro-Hamas celebrations.

On October 12, the country’s interior minister ordered local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations and pleaded for unity in the face of tragedy. However, the ban was overturned by the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, on October 18.

A protestor holds a Palestinian flag alongside a sign celebrating Palestinian resistance against Israel during a rally in Paris, Saturday, October 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an international coalition against Hamas, which would operate alongside an international coalition against the Islamic State.

Thirty-five French people were killed in the Hamas massacre, and an additional nine are believed to have been taken hostage.

As EU member states, Germany and France have long classified Hamas as a terror organization. Other member states have also worked to minimize the group’s actions inside their countries amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. According to Human Rights Watch, bans on pro-Palestinian protests were also enacted in Austria and Hungary.

Outside of the EU, Switzerland took an unprecedented stance against Hamas on October 11 and is examining the possibility of designating Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In the UK, where Hamas is already designated as such, UK immigration minister Robert Jenrick has suggested that he could enact a policy under which visa-holders and foreign nationals could be expelled if they are found to be spreading antisemitic hate.

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