Proposals to outlaw support for Hamas receives backing from MPs

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Proposals to outlaw support for Hamas receives backing from MPs

Security minister says the distinction between the terror group's political and military wing is now viewed as 'artificial' by the UK government

MPs have backed plans to proscribe Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.

Security minister Damian Hinds said any distinction between the Palestinian Islamist group’s political wing and military wing is now considered “artificial”.

The proposed ban will cover the political wing of Hamas and means anyone who expresses support for the organisation, which controls the Gaza Strip, will be in breach of the Terrorism Act 2000 – and could face up to 14 years in prison.

Actions expected to be outlawed from November 26 would include arranging meetings for the group, flying their flag or wearing clothing that is seen to support them.

Labour also backed the regulations, which will be considered by the House of Lords on Thursday.

Israel has thanked the UK Government for taking such action.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hinds said: “Groups like Hamas train members in terrorism as well as preparing and committing terrible acts of violence against innocent members of the public.

“We have a duty to our allies as well as to our own people to tackle groups that inspire or coordinate terror on the international stage.”

Mr Hinds said Hamas’s so-called military and political wings have “grown closer together, with any distinction between them now considered to be artificial”.

He went on: “The Home Secretary (Priti Patel) has a reasonable belief that Hamas in its entirety is concerned in terrorism.

“It’s our assessment that the group prepares and commits and participates in acts of terrorism.

“There is also evidence the group promotes and encourages terrorism.”

He highlighted “indiscriminate” rocket or mortar attacks against Israeli targets as “key examples” of Hamas “committing this terrorism”.

For Labour, shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Hamas, the Government has said, is certainly a complex organisation but it is a single terrorist organisation – and that is accepted by the Opposition.”

Conservative former communities secretary Robert Jenrick backed the order and said recent attacks in the UK show the need to “redouble our efforts here to tackle extremism in all its forms”.

He added: “That’s why I think this effort, this move is so important.”

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