In a significant move aimed at addressing the ongoing Middle East crisis, the Swiss government has announced its intention to draft a federal law that explicitly bans Hamas activities or support for the Palestinian militant group within Switzerland.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, underlining Switzerland’s commitment to international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in conflict zones.
“The Federal Council decided to draft a federal act banning Hamas, considering this to be the most appropriate response to the situation that has prevailed in the Middle East since October 7,” the government stated in a press release.
The proposed act aims to equip federal authorities with the necessary tools to counter any Hamas activities or support for the organization within Switzerland. This decision comes in the wake of escalating tensions in the Middle East, triggered by an attack on October 7 that has been described as the worst in Israel’s history.
The attack, carried out by Hamas gunmen, resulted in the tragic deaths of around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to the Israeli government.
Hamas, along with other Palestinian militant groups, also took approximately 240 Israelis and foreigners as hostages. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas, pledging to secure the release of the hostages and dismantle the militant group.
This led to a major bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, with the Hamas government reporting a devastating toll of 14,100 casualties, including thousands of children.
The decision to draft the law comes as no surprise, given the Swiss government’s commitment to addressing the issue. Switzerland’s seven-member government, formed by ministers from the country’s four largest political parties, is expected to garner strong support from lawmakers in parliament for this draft law.
The Swiss People’s Party, the largest political party in Switzerland, particularly the hard-right faction, has been a vocal advocate for banning Hamas activities within the country.
In its announcement, the Swiss government reiterated the importance of respecting international humanitarian law and safeguarding civilian lives. It strongly condemned the Hamas terrorist attacks and expressed deep sorrow for the thousands of civilians who have lost their lives in the ongoing conflict.
Switzerland also recognized Israel’s right to defend itself and ensure its security. In light of the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the Federal Council emphasized the necessity of unimpeded humanitarian access and called for humanitarian pauses to facilitate this.
Furthermore, Switzerland reiterated its commitment to promoting a political framework in the region based on a two-state solution. The government believes that this approach is the only viable path to ensure peaceful coexistence, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian and Israeli populations.
As Switzerland takes this significant step, it joins the international community in seeking a resolution to the ongoing Middle East crisis and reaffirms its dedication to upholding humanitarian principles in times of conflict.