(JTA) — The Organization of American States, an international coalition of 35 countries in North and South America, has designated Hamas a terrorist organization amid Israel’s worst bout of fighting with the group in years.
“The recent attacks launched by Hamas against the Israeli civilian population undoubtedly constitute attacks of a terrorist nature,” Luis Almagro of Uruguay, the OAS secretary general, wrote Monday in a statement. “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 Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Latin American branch applauded the move and pointed to four member states whose governments have expressed opinions counter to the OAS statement: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela.
“We congratulate Secretary General Luis Almagro for clarifying this to the OAS’ member-states whose foreign ministries which have taken positions of ignorance or partiality,” Simon Wiesenthal regional director Ariel Gelblung said.
The Argentina Foreign Ministry released a statement last week titled “Concern about the situation in Israel and Palestine” expressing “deep concern” over what it deemed a “disproportionate use of force” by Israel as well as the rocket fire from Gaza.
The United States, a member of the OAS, already refers to Hamas as a terrorist organization.
The OAS, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the world’s oldest regional organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States held in the U.S. capital in 1889.