Israel' domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has worked with its counterparts in Britain in order to get the government to designate Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, in its entirety as a "terrorist" group, Israeli media revealed on Sunday. Citing Channel 12 news, the Times of Israel said that several officials from Shin Bet travelled to the UK in recent weeks for this purpose.
The Israeli officials apparently provided "intelligence" on several individuals living in Britain who are, it is alleged, affiliated with Hamas and help to finance it. The designation, it is reported, will undermine the movement's activities in the UK, where it is alleged to carry out significant fundraising.
The decision to designate Hamas must be approved by parliament before it takes effect. According to the Times of Israel, it followed a face-to-face meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Britain's Boris Johnson at the climate change conference in Glasgow earlier this month.
Channel 12 claimed that these alleged Hamas members raise funds in Britain that are then sent to institutions in Gaza which, Israel says, are linked to the Palestinian group. Israeli intelligence officials claim that the most significant of these is the Islamic University of Gaza. Israel has bombed the university on a number of occasions, alleging that its laboratories are used to develop weapons for Hamas. This is denied by the well-respected academic institution, which has eleven faculties and more than 20,000 students, as well as connections with major universities around the world.
Critics of the designation such as journalists Yvonne Ridley and Motasem Dalloul point out that it is likely to be counterproductive because of the political importance of Hamas in occupied Palestine. The chair of the London-based Europal Forum, Zaher Birawi, told Dalloul that, "Home Secretary Priti Patel's plan to designate Hamas is intended to restrict even further the public space for expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians and their cause against the Israeli occupation."