New Zealand declares Hamas a terror organization

In what could be seen as a show of evenhandedness, Wellington simultaneously sanctioned alleged Jewish extremists in Judea and Samaria.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

New Zealand on Thursday declared that in light of Hamas’ horrific massacre of 1,200 people during its surprise invasion of Israel almost five months ago, it now considers all of Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

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

“What happened on 7 October reinforces we can no longer distinguish between the military and political wings of Hamas. The organization as a whole bears responsibility for these horrific terrorist attacks,” added his foreign minister, Winston Peters, in the joint statement.

Wellington had previously made a distinction between Hamas’ military and political wings, outlawing the military side in 2010.

Israel has never made a distinction between the two, as they are so closely intertwined. The U.S., EU, UK, Canada and several other Western countries list all of Hamas as a terrorist entity as well.

New Zealand’s decision makes it a criminal offense to assist Hamas in any way financially or provide it with “material support.” It also freezes any of the group’s assets in the country.

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Luxon was careful to differentiate between the country’s attitude towards the terror group and ordinary Palestinians.

“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,” he said.

His government would continue providing humanitarian aid “and future development assistance to benefit civilians in Gaza.”

In what could be seen as a show of evenhandedness, Luxon and Peters simultaneously also set sanctions on alleged Jewish extremists in Judea and Samaria.

Luxon said he is “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,” he added.

Without naming them, Peters said, “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.”

The Biden administration recently slapped severe financial restrictions on four residents of Judea and Samaria for allegedly attacking or harassing Palestinians.

Great Britain followed suit two weeks ago, with three of the four being subjected to a UK asset freeze and visa ban being different than those listed by the U.S.

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The EU and France have also declared that they are planning sanctions against “extremist settlers.”

The countries all cited UN statistics that Jewish attacks on Palestinians are on the rise, but a close examination of the relevant report has shown that the “settler-related incidents” included “violence, intimidation or trespass” committed by Palestinians as well as Jews.

The Israel Police has its own statistics that show that the number of attacks committed by Jews in Judea and Samaria in fact decreased dramatically last year, and especially since the Israel-Hamas war began.