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Germany takes steps to restrict Hamas support, ban Samidoun

October 16, 2023

Germany's domestic intelligence agency chief told parliament he intends to swiftly and decisively enforce the changes. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had announced the plan last week, in light of Hamas' terror attack on Israel.

Dozens of protesters from the Samidoun organization are gathering in front of the Muelheim train station in Cologne, Germany, on April 15, 2023, to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners' Day.
The Samidoun organization drew attention on the day of Hamas' terror attack on Israel, as a member handed out sweet snacks in Berlin in celebrationImage: Ying Tang/NurPhoto/picture alliance

The Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, said it was working to ban support of the militant group Hamas and to outlaw the pro-Palestinian network Samidoun, at the earliest opportunity.

"We are working with all available capacities to ensure the implementation of the measures as quickly as possible," the body's president, Thomas Haldenwang, told Germany's Bundestag in a special briefing on Monday. 

In an address to the Bundestag parliament last week, Chancellor German Olaf Scholz vowed to ban all Hamas activities in Germany and to prosecute anyone involved in such activities. The pro-Palestinian group Samidoun would also be outlawed, he added. 

Hamas's October 7 bloody attacks on Israel, which left over 1,300 killed, were celebrated by Samidoun in Germany. The network posted photos on Instagram of pro-Palestinian activists distributing sweets in Berlin in celebration.

What did Haldenwang say?

Addressing a Bundestag public hearing within the oversight committee, Haldenwang said that "the barbaric acts of Hamas" in Israel were another example of "the direct impact of crises on Germany's security interests."

Thomas Haldenwang, President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, attends the presentation of the 2022 Report on the Protection of the Constitution at the Federal Press Conference.
German domestic intelligence agency boss Thomas Haldenwang updated parliamentarians on the process on MondayImage: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

He was referring to what he described as the "outrageous scenes" of celebrations of the Hamas terror attacks in German cities. Haldenwang said the bans were "a logical consequence of our findings."

Hamas is already designated as a terrorist group in Germany, alongside other countries including the US and Israel. The European Union also lists it as a terrorist group.

There is therefore no official branch of Hamas in Germany and so there is no group for authorities to ban. However, the proposed law changes would further limit the abilities of private individuals or organizations to voice support for, or in some cases even provide material support to the group, including via third parties. 

The domestic intelligence agency estimates that about 450 people in Germany back Hamas; many of them have German citizenship. 

Berlin authorities ban pro-Palestinian protest

rmt/msh (AFP, dpa)

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