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UK to designate entire Hamas a terror group, outlaw support

British home secretary set to announce new policy, which will no longer distinguish between military and political wings; Hamas backers in UK could face up to 10 years in prison

Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a regional cabinet meeting at Rolls Royce in Bristol, England, October 15, 2021. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)
Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a regional cabinet meeting at Rolls Royce in Bristol, England, October 15, 2021. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)

The United Kingdom will designate Hamas as a terror organization on Friday and outlaw support for the group, with violators liable to face up to 10 years in prison, the British Embassy in Israel confirmed.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel will make the announcement Friday during an event in Washington, DC, according to a statement from the embassy.

The UK recognized the Hamas military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — as a terror organization in 2001, but did not extend that designation to its political arm, which rules Gaza.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, Patel said that distinction was no longer defensible.

“We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side,” she said, according to The Guardian. “It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself.”

Patel will advance the designation through parliament next week, according to The Guardian. The outlawing of the group would see those who express support for Hamas, meet with its members, or fly its flag, face criminal punishment of up to a decade in prison.

In her speech on Friday, Patel will call Hamas “rabidly antisemitic,” and say the outlawing of the terror group aims to make Britain’s Jews feel more secure.

“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence,” her prepared remarks said, according to a statement from the British Embassy in Israel.

Members of the armed wing of Hamas parade in Gaza City on June 7, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

“But the current listing of Hamas creates an artificial distinction between various parts of the organization – it is right that the listing is updated to reflect this. This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”

“Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic,” she will say. “Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online.

“This 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.”

Illustrative: Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014 (AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)

The United States and European Union have designated Hamas a terror organization. The terror group, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the PA in a bloody coup in 2007, has initiated multiple wars with Israel in the past decade and fired thousands of rockets at civilian cities.

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