Britain on Friday designated all of Hamas an “Islamist terrorist group,” warning that its members and those who support the group could face stiff jail terms.
The move had been announced last week, and was hailed by Israel. It followed similar action by the United States and the European Union.
The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the group that rules the Gaza Strip, has been banned in Britain since 2001 but the interior ministry has now extended the ban to its political entities as well.
London said last week it was no longer possible to make a distinction, assessing that Hamas “commits, participates in, prepares for and promotes and encourages terrorism.
“The Islamist terrorist group Hamas has today become a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK in its entirety following parliament’s approval,” the Home Office said. “This means that members of Hamas or those who invite support for the group could be jailed for up to 14 years.”
Hamas itself has called the UK move “a crime against our Palestinian people and all their history of struggle.”
Israel has praised the United Kingdom’s move. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last Friday thanked UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“This is an important and significant decision that gives British security bodies additional tools to prevent the continued buildup of the Hamas terror organization, including in Britain,” Lapid said. “There is no legitimate part to a terror organization and any attempt to separate parts of a terror organization is artificial.”
The decision was also cheered by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“Hamas is a terror organization, plain and simple. The ‘political wing’ enables its military activity. The same terrorists — only in suits,” Bennett tweeted.
Bennett thanked his counterpart, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for his “leadership on the subject.”
Patel said the group “has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”
She added that “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that the move “will help tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”
Patel said the step “will strengthen the case against anyone who waves a Hamas flag in the United Kingdom, an act that is bound to make Jewish people feel unsafe.”
Both the United States and European Union have designated Hamas a terror organization. The terror group, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, has initiated multiple wars with Israel in the past decade and fired thousands of rockets at civilian cities.