The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Federal Council wants to ban radical Islamic Hamas in Switzerland

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 12 October 2023

The Federal Council wants to classify the radical Islamic Hamas as a terrorist organization and have it banned following the recent attacks on Israel.

Federal Council wants to ban radical Islamic Hamas in Switzerland
(Photo by Hansjörg Keller on Unsplash)

A taskforce reporting directly to the Federal Council is to examine the legal options for banning the Palestinian organization.

The Middle East Task Force is tasked with conducting the necessary analyses to make coordinated decisions in connection with the events. This was announced by the state government after its meeting on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Security Policy Committee of the National Council (SIK-N) had already unanimously pleaded for a Hamas ban.

So far, IS and al-Qaeda have been legally banned in Switzerland. The ban has already led to convictions for propaganda for the organizations. According to the regulation, anyone who directly or indirectly propagates, supports or otherwise promotes terrorist or violent extremist activities can be sanctioned with a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine.

For Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, an approach similar to that taken against al-Qaeda is conceivable, as he said on Monday. The Federal Council currently lacks the legal leeway to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization. After it became clear what Hamas was capable of, the attitude of Swiss diplomacy towards this organization would change, Cassis clarified.

Federal Council calls attacks shocking

Israel’s Ambassador Ifat Reshef also hopes that Switzerland will classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. “I very much hope that Switzerland will join the countries that have already designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in some form,” Reshef said in a video interview with the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday. Hamas, he said, is first and foremost a threat to the Palestinian people, then also to the Israeli people, to the people of the region and to the entire world.

On Wednesday, the Federal Council described Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians as shocking. It condemned them in the strongest terms and demanded the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas. Switzerland also recognized Israel’s legitimate will for national defense and security. Furthermore, the Federal Council recalled “that the civilian population must be protected and international humanitarian law must be respected at all times.”

Federal government analyzes financial flows

Moreover, the Federal Council stressed in the communication that the security of citizens of the Jewish faith and of Jewish institutions in Switzerland is of paramount importance. Finally, Switzerland is making itself available to support all efforts in the region that are working toward de-escalation. Switzerland is heavily involved in Israel and Palestine at the diplomatic level.

The Federal Council is also not aware of any evidence to date that Swiss funds have benefited Hamas and its activities, it added. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) will conduct a further detailed analysis of the financial flows related to the Middle East cooperation program.

The FDFA on Wednesday also continued to review indications of possible missing or deceased persons who hold Swiss citizenship in addition to Israeli citizenship. It is in contact with local authorities on the matter, the FDFA said in response to a request.

University of Bern releases lecturers

Meanwhile, the University of Bern on Wednesday dismissed a lecturer at the Institute of Islamic Studies who had made positive comments about the Hamas attack in two online posts on X (formerly Twitter), calling it a “gift.”

The lecturer will be released “with immediate effect until the final clarification of the consequences,” the university said in response to a request from the Keystone-SDA news agency.

Swiss operates third special flight

The airline Swiss will also operate another evacuation flight for the Swiss government from Zurich to Tel Aviv and back on Thursday. This was announced by Swiss on Wednesday afternoon upon request. This flight, too, can be booked exclusively via a special hotline communicated by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) to Swiss nationals in Israel, the Swiss statement said.

Thursday’s special flight is scheduled to land in Tel Aviv at 4 p.m. local time, according to Swiss. The scheduled departure for the return flight is 5 p.m. with a landing in Zurich at 8:20 p.m. The Airbus has 215 seats, it said.

A first special flight with 224 people on board landed in Zurich late Tuesday evening. The second evacuation flight is scheduled to arrive in Zurich on Wednesday evening. The DFA does not foresee an organized departure of Swiss nationals from Israel. Some 28,000 Swiss nationals were registered in Israel and the Palestinian territories before the Hamas attack.

©Keystone/SDA

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