SYDNEY — Australia on Thursday said it would list the entire Hamas movement as a terrorist organization, the latest Western nation to do so.
Canberra had previously only designated Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
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.
“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,” said Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.
The designation will place restrictions on financing or providing other support to Hamas — with certain offenses carrying a 25-year prison sentence.
“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,” Andrews said.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett 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.
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.”
Both the United States and European Union have designated Hamas a terror organization.
Last year, the United Kingdom also said it would also designate the entirety of Hamas as a terror organization and outlaw support for the group.
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.