New Zealand designates entirety of Hamas a 'terrorist entity' | Inquirer News

New Zealand designates entirety of Hamas a ‘terrorist entity’

/ 05:50 PM February 29, 2024

Christopher Luxon

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Christopher Luxon reacts as he speaks during a press conference in Sydney on December 20, 2023. AFP FILE PHOTO

WELLINGTON — New Zealand on Thursday became one of the last Western countries to designate all of Hamas as a “terrorist entity”, saying its October 7 attacks on Israel had shattered the notion its political and military wings are separate.

“The organization as a whole bears responsibility for these horrific terrorist attacks,” Wellington said, announcing a move to freeze Hamas assets in New Zealand and ban citizens from providing the group with “material support”.


“The terrorist attacks by Hamas in October 2023 were brutal and we have unequivocally condemned them,” New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said in a statement.


READ: Israel ‘at war’ as Hamas gunmen launch surprise attack from Gaza

Luxon stressed the designation was about Hamas “and is not a reflection on the Palestinian people in Gaza and around the world” while indicating humanitarian support would continue.

“The designation does not stop New Zealand providing humanitarian and future development assistance to benefit civilians in Gaza.”

New Zealand had designated the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, as a terrorist entity in 2010.

But it has been reluctant to follow other Western nations in extending the designation to the entire group — which is also a political party and has enjoyed widespread Palestinian support.

Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006 and has ruled without fresh polls ever since.


Alexander Gillespie, a law professor at the University of Waikato, told AFP that in distinguishing between Hamas’s political and armed wings, New Zealand may have hoped to create space for any “future peace process”.

He cited the example of Northern Ireland, where a distinction between the Irish Republican Army and political wing Sinn Fein allowed adversaries to engage with the latter.

“While that fiction may have worked there,” Gillespie said, “it is not a viable fiction in Gaza anymore, especially post the recent October 7 atrocities.”

READ: New Zealand tightens terror law after recent IS-linked attack

“Hamas in any form cannot be part of a future government for Gaza.”

There was, however, political opposition to the move, particularly from the left.

Some New Zealand political figures have argued that Hamas’s “terrorist” designation should be matched by a similar designation for the Israel Defense Forces.

They point to the IDF’s months-long campaign in the Gaza Strip — launched in response to the October 7 attacks — which has killed more than 30,000 people, according to the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry.

Such a move is highly unlikely, but New Zealand on Thursday also announced sanctions on about a dozen “extremist Israeli settlers” accused of violence against Palestinians.

“We are imposing travel bans on a number of people known to have committed violent acts. These individuals will not be able to travel to New Zealand,” said Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

The individuals were not named publicly.

Gillespie said the New Zealand sanctions would “be more symbolic than anything else”, and “akin to our sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea”.

The fresh designation for Hamas’s political wing, meanwhile, “may have most impact on donations and financial support, although I would guess that would be small”, he added.

New Zealand on Thursday also sanctioned 61 more Russians and Russian entities “including those involved in sanctions evasion procurement networks”.

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“These designations include entities procuring technology for Russia’s defense industry and senior leaders of certain Russian banks,” New Zealand’s foreign ministry said.

TAGS: Hamas, New Zealand

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