Israeli ministers praised Australia’s announcement on Thursday that it will designate the entire Hamas organization as a terror group, saying it was an important step against global terrorism.
The cheers were led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who welcomed the development and thanked his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison “for following through on our dialogue on this important matter.”
“This is another important step in the global fight against terrorism,” Bennett tweeted.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he had spoken personally with the Australian envoy to Israel, Ambassador Paul Griffiths, to thank him for the move.
“With this declaration, Australia joins the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and others in recognizing the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organization,” Lapid tweeted. “The Foreign Ministry is leading, together with additional partners, an international effort targeting terrorist organizations, and Australia’s declaration is an important step in that effort.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted his gratitude to Australia for “designating the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organization — including its political wing, which plans, finances and conducts terror activities. Hamas targets civilians, threatens the State of Israel, and holds Gaza residents hostage.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked also praised the move as a follow-up to Australia last year labeling the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group as a terror organization, tweeting that: “Australia again chose the right side of history.”
Bennett met Morrison at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November last year when he urged the importance of recognizing Hezbollah group as a terror group. Later that month Australia complied with the request.
Until Thursday’s announcement, Canberra had previously only designated Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as terrorist.
Hamas, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, openly seeks to destroy Israel, has initiated multiple conflicts with Israel in the past decade, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities, and orchestrated campaigns of suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, who announced the new policy, has written to state governments to finalize the listing of Hamas as soon as possible.
“The views of Hamas and the violent extremist groups listed today are deeply disturbing, and there is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies,” Andrews said.
“It is vital that our laws target not only terrorist acts and terrorists, but also the organizations that plan, finance and carry out these acts,” she said.
The designation will place restrictions on financing or providing other support to Hamas, with certain offenses carrying a 25-year prison sentence.
Australia said it was also adding the US-based far-right extremist group National Socialist Order to the terror list.
Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler said the Hamas listing made clear Australia’s “absolute rejection of hatred and terrorism.”
“There is absolutely no doubt that Hamas in its entirety meets the definition of terrorist organization,” Leibler said in a statement, noting that the decision aligns Australia with the United States, European Union, Britain and Canada.