NZ designates entirety of Hamas as terrorist entity

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Foreign Minister Winston Peters have announced today the designation of Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist entity.

“The terrorist attacks by Hamas in October 2023 were brutal and we have unequivocally condemned them,” Mr Luxon says. 

Following these attacks, then Prime Minister Chris Hipkins commissioned advice from officials about designating the entirety of Hamas - which has now been received. 

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

"But what happened on 7 October reinforces we can no longer distinguish between the military and political wings of Hamas. The organisation as a whole bears responsibility for these horrific terrorist attacks."

A designation under New Zealand legislation freezes any assets of the terrorist entity in New Zealand. It also makes it a criminal offence to carry out property or financial transactions with them or provide material support.

“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,” Mr Luxon says.

“This designation targets Hamas, not the provision of private humanitarian support to Palestinian civilians. Similarly, the designation does not stop New Zealand providing humanitarian and future development assistance to benefit civilians in Gaza, nor does it stop us providing consular support to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the conflict zone.”

Mr Peters says, “We remain gravely concerned about the impact of this conflict on civilians and will continue to call for an end to the violence and an urgent resumption of the Middle East Peace Process. 

"A lasting solution to the conflict will only be achieved by peaceful means.”


Israel-Hamas conflict

Terrorist designations

  • Terrorist designations are a tool that the Prime Minister can use to limit the activities of individuals and groups that have undertaken terrorist acts. 
  • Designation of an entity under the Terrorist Suppression Act 2002 (TSA) is one mechanism to give effect to New Zealand’s obligation under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 to take steps to outlaw the financing of, participation in, and recruitment to, terrorist entities.
  • It is an offence under New Zealand law to deal with a designated entity’s property, financial, or related services. It is an offence to knowingly recruit for a designated entity or participate in a group for the purpose of enhancing its ability to carry out a terrorist act. Members of a designated entity are not entitled to a visa or permission to enter New Zealand. Membership of a designated entity alone is not an offence. 

Process to designate 

  • The TSA sets out the stringent criteria that must be met for an entity to be designated in New Zealand as a terrorist entity. Those criteria include reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly carried out, or has knowingly participated in the carrying out of, one or more terrorist acts.
  • Where advice is provided on the potential designation of non-UN-listed terrorist entities in support of UNSCR 1373, this is supported by a “Statement of Case”. The Statement of Case provides assurance that the statutory criteria for designation have been met. Other relevant factors also form part of the consideration as to whether to designate. The Chief Executive-level National Security Board considers these matters and provides a recommendation to the Prime Minister about whether to designate an entity. The Prime Minister is required by law to consult with the Attorney-General before designating an entity for the first time. 

Previous designations of Hamas’ military wing

  • The military wing of Hamas was first designated in October 2010. This designation was renewed in 2013, 2016, 2019, and most recently 2022.

Designation by other countries

  • Australia listed Hamas in its entirety in March 2022, the UK in November 2021. The United States has designated Hamas in its entirety since 1997, as has Canada since 2002, and the European Union since 2003.