New Zealand designates all of Hamas as terror group, sanctions extremist settlers

Wellington says Oct. 7 massacre makes Hamas’s military wing, political organization indistinguishable; PM says surge in attacks by Israeli settlers ‘destabilizing’ ongoing crisis

New Zealand's Prime Minister Christopher Luxon reacts as he speaks during a press conference in Sydney on December 20, 2023. (David Gray/AFP)
New Zealand's Prime Minister Christopher Luxon reacts as he speaks during a press conference in Sydney on December 20, 2023. (David Gray/AFP)

New Zealand on Thursday listed Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist entity and imposed travel bans on “extremist” Israeli settlers who it said had committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said in a statement that the devastating onslaught by Hamas on Israel in October was “brutal and we have unequivocally condemned them.”

But he added that “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.”

New Zealand has designated the military wing of Hamas as a terrorist entity since 2010.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the whole of Hamas bears responsibility for the October 7 massacre, making it difficult for the New Zealand government to distinguish between the group’s military and political wings.

War erupted when Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities on October 7, slaughtering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 253 hostages to Gaza.

File: Hamas terrorists are seen on their way to cross the Israel-Gaza border fence from Khan Younis on October 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)

New Zealand’s decision makes it a criminal offense to carry out property or financial transactions with Hamas or provide material support. It also freezes any Hamas assets in New Zealand.

It does not prevent New Zealand from providing humanitarian and future development assistance for civilians in Gaza or from giving consular support to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the conflict zone.

Luxon also said he was “seriously concerned by the significant increase in extremist violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers” against Palestinians in recent months.

“This is particularly destabilizing in what is already a major crisis,” Luxon said.

New Zealand’s consistent position has been that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are a violation of international law.

Several countries,  including the US, UK, and France, have imposed sanctions on violent settlers in recent months.

The government said it would continue to support a future Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution, urging an end to the current conflict and an urgent restart of the Middle East peace process.

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