Australia lists all of Hamas as a terrorist group

People gather as Palestinian Hamas militants attend an anti-Israel rally in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

SYDNEY, March 4 (Reuters) - Australia on Friday listed the entire Palestinian Islamist group Hamas as a terrorist organisation, calling the move a deterrent to political and religious violence and bringing Australia in line with the United States, the European Union and Britain.

Australia had for two decades proscribed Hamas's paramilitary wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organisation but flagged last month that it wanted to upgrade the listing to the whole organisation, a process that involved consulting Australia's state and territory leaders. read more

The change puts Australia into lockstep with its allies, which have also been moving to tighten their opposition to the Gaza ruling body, citing its access to sophisticated weaponry and terrorist training facilities. read more

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"The hateful ideologies of terrorist groups and those who support them have no place in Australia," Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement.

"Our strong laws target not only terrorist acts and terrorists, but also the organisations that plan, finance and carry out these abhorrent acts," she added.

Listing organisations was a deterrent to violent extremism and sent a message that Australia condemned the use of violence to achieve political, religious or ideological aims, she added.

Proscribing an organisation in Australia makes it illegal to give it funds, support or services.

Hamas has political and military wings, both now designated. It has ruled the Gaza Strip since a civil war in 2007 when it expelled forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas remains dominant in Palestinian self-ruled areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Australia has been building its list of designated terrorist groups, which now number 28. It recently listed three other groups: Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, which are based in Syria, and the Nationalist Socialist Order, a group based in the United States.

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Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Robert Birsel

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