Organization of American States Designates Hamas a Terrorist Group

A Palestinian protestor holds a picture of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a weekly demonstration against Israeli occupation in the West Bank village of Maasarah near Bethlehem on March 8, 2013. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were united in grief over the death of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, …
MUSA AL-SHAER/AFP via Getty Images

The Organization of American States (OAS) designated the Palestinian jihadist organization Hamas a terrorist group this week in response to a barrage of hundreds of rockets targeting civilians in Israel in the past month.

Under current Secretary-General Luis Almagro, the OAS has more prominently condemned Mideast jihadist organizations, particularly the Iran-backed Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, which experts believe plays a prominent role in drug trafficking throughout Latin America. Despite being a Sunni Muslim group, the Iranian Islamic regime supports Hamas’ objectives and, evidence indicates, funds the terrorist group.

In a statement Monday, the OAS condemned Hamas’ ongoing rocket campaign against Israeli civilians and its endangerment of Palestinian civilians to further its objectives against Israel.

“The recent attacks launched by Hamas against the Israeli civilian population undoubtedly constitute attacks of a terrorist nature. Their violence and the objectives they pursue clearly have this characteristic,” the statement read. “Hamas’s terrorist aggression is unlimited and always seeks civilian victims, seeks to escalate conflict dynamics and armed actions, as well as sowing terror among innocent populations, be they Israeli or Palestinian.”

“The immoral and unworthy use of children and women as human shields, as well as the militarization of residential areas, constitute in themselves acts that deserve the most absolute repudiation and condemnation,” the OAS continued.

The OAS accused Hamas of having a “clear terrorist objective” and declared counterattacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) a form of “legitimate defense.”

As of Thursday, Hamas has launched over 3,500 rockets towards densely populated Israeli cities. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system prevented most rockets from hitting civilian targets, but the high volume of rockets launched resulted in significant civilian casualties. The rocket attacks followed mob disorder and violence by Muslims in Jerusalem that later led to mob attacks on synagogues and other Jewish targets by suspected Arab Israelis criminals. The IDF has responded with targeted attacks on Hamas terrorist tunnels, offices, and other strategic sites in Gaza.

The conflict has reverberated throughout Latin America, where communist and socialist governments have expressed support for antisemitic terrorism. The rogue dictatorships of Venezuela and Cuba, close allies of Hezbollah and the Iranian government, have been at the forefront of support for Hamas in the region.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its most firm condemnation of the new violent and unjustifiable actions committed against the brotherly Palestinian people by the State of Israel,” the Foreign Ministry of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro said in a statement last week. “Venezuela reaffirms its historical and principled position in defense of the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of the Palestinian people, while expressing its support for the government of the Palestinian National Authority and its solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, following the cruel attacks carried out by the military and police forces of Israel.”

Diosdado Cabello, a top Maduro henchman and accused drug lord, issued a personal statement on Twitter calling Israeli military responses to Hamas attacks a “massacre” and using the Spanish-language hashtag “#PalestineWeAreWithYou.”

The Cuban Communist Party, which largely controls Venezuela, also condemned Israel for defending itself from terrorist bombings.

“The Zionist barbarism and mandate of impunity that the U.S. offers to these crimes with its support of Israel insults the world,” Cuban second-in-command, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, said in a statement on social media last week.

Outside of state-sponsored support of Hamas, outbursts of antisemitism have occurred elsewhere in Latin America. Several towns and cities in Argentina woke up this week tainted with antisemitic graffiti in Jewish communities, including graffiti carrying explicit threats like “we are going to kill them [Jews]” and “build the fatherland, kill a Jew.” Argentina suffered the worst terrorist attack in the history of the Western Hemisphere prior to September 11, 2001, at the hands of Iran: the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. The prosecutor who compiled the most compelling evidence against Iran for the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in January 2015, the day before he was to present evidence that the Argentine government helped protect Iran from international consequences over the matter to the nation’s Congress. No one has been arrested for his death at press time.

Luis Almagro, the OAS secretary-general, has repeatedly warned the world of the growing threats of jihadist violence in the Americas.

More recently, in March, Almagro testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Venezuela and Cuba are enabling Hezbollah activity in Latin America.

“The dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela are permanently at work to erode political stability and democracy in the region,” Almagro told senators. “[I]ts dictators have been accused of corruption, crimes against humanity and drug trafficking. It is also host and safe haven for terrorist organizations including FARC dissidents, ELN [both Colombian communist terrorist groups], and Hezbollah. We urgently need a solution.”

Almagro won the 2019 Champion of Democracy Award from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for “exemplifying courageous and visionary leadership in fighting for democratic rule in the region and for combating anti-Semitism and terrorism,” according to the organization.

Four Latin American countries — Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, and Guatemala — have designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization in the past two years.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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