by SEAN BURKE – AUSTRALIANS supporting last weekend’s Hamas attack on Israel face imprisonment for associating with a registered terrorist organisation.
Supporters were warned after taking to the streets in Sydney to cheer Hamas’s brutal attacks, which saw more than 700 Israeli civilians and soldiers killed and at least 130 mainly women and children taken hostage.
Federal Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson said Australian police would be paying close attention to pro-Hamas supporters.
“Hamas and Hezbollah have both been unanimously prescribed as terrorist organisations by the Australian Government,” Mr Paterson told Sky News today.
“The important thing about that for Australians is that the legal effect means it’s now a crime to associate with a terrorist organisation – and that includes all of Hamas and all of Hezbollah,” he said.
“I think it is very important that Australians, if they want to protest about this issue – and they are entitled to do so peacefully – that they don’t in any away associate themselves with Hamas.”
Mr Paterson said that simply attending a rally would be unlikely to meet the threshold for prosecution.
“Nor would holding a flag, as stupid and offensive as that would be,” he continued.
“But providing material assistance to either of these organisations – particularly in terms of fund raising, recruitment or incitement to violence – would meet that threshold.”
He said such actions would be considered a very serious crime that would attract serious penalties.
Mr Patterson said what had occurred to Israel on the weekend was criminal.
“To see Hamas get into Israel (from Gaza), kidnapping men, women and children – including the elderly – taking them back into Gaza and in many instances executing or abusing them, documenting it and then putting it up on social media – these are crimes against humanity,” he said.
“To have any Australian person celebrating that is an abhorrent thing. Anyone who went along to cheer should be ashamed of themselves.”PC