New Zealand lists Hamas as terrorist group, sanctions ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 9:35 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand on Thursday listed Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist entity and imposed travel bans on “extremist” Israeli settlers whom it said had committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said in a statement that the attacks by the Hamas on Israel in October “were brutal and we have unequivocally condemned them.”

But he added that “New Zealand wants to be clear that 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.”

New Zealand has designated the military wing of Hamas as a terrorist entity since 2010.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the whole of Hamas bears responsibility for the October attacks, making it difficult for the New Zealand government to distinguish between the group’s military and political wings.

The Oct. 7 attacks killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. Since then, Israel’s air and ground campaign in Hamas-governed Gaza has killed about 30,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

New Zealand’s decision makes it a criminal offence to carry out property or financial transactions with Hamas or provide material support. It also freezes any Hamas assets in New Zealand.

It does not prevent New Zealand from providing humanitarian and future development assistance for civilians in Gaza or from giving consular support to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the conflict zone.

Luxon also said he was “seriously concerned by the significant increase in extremist violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers” against Palestinians in recent months.

“This is particularly destabilising in what is already a major crisis,” Luxon said.

New Zealand’s consistent position has been that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are a violation of international law.

The government said it would continue to support a future Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution, urging an end to the current conflict and an urgent restart of the Middle East peace process.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)