by Giovanni Giacalone
In the afternoon of October 10th 2023 in Milan’s very central Piazza Mercanti, less than 100 meters from the famous Duomo square, a pro-Palestinian sit-in took place; one of the many throughout Europe that were organized against Israel’s military response to Hamas.
However, something that did not go unnoticed is the fact that the main speaker of this demonstration was Mohammad Hannoun, the president of the Association of Palestinians in Italy.
While being interviewed by the Italian national TV station Rai3, Hannoun claimed that “Hamas’ attack is self-defense”. A statement that is undoubtedly very serious considering that Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU, the US, Great Britain, Canada and indeed Israel.
A statement that is unacceptable considering the ferocity of the attack perpetrated by Hamas terrorists against Israeli and foreign civilians. Babies were slaughtered and decapitated, women were brutalized, raped, taken hostage, families were massacred; the terrorists showed no mercy, not even for the disabled and the elderly. This abomination cannot be defined as “self-defense” but rather as war crimes against humanity.
As stated by the director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Boaz Ganor: “Those who attack my soldiers are my problem, but those who attack my civilians are a problem of the international community”.
In this case, Hamas committed a crime against the world, because it’s not only Israelis that were slaughtered, but also citizens of many other countries.
It is therefore absurd to hear statements such as the one made by Hannoun, describing Hamas’ criminal assault as “self-defense”.
At this point, in order to understand this statement, it is essential to go deeper and investigate who is Mohammad Hannoun.
A Palestinian architect based in Genoa, he is the founder of the Charity Association of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (ABSPP), the president of the Association of Palestinians in Italy and the association Europeans for al-Quds.
In December of 2021, after several reports to the Anti-Money Laundering Office, Unicredit bank suspended operations on the accounts of the ABSPP, which also has offices in Milan and Rome, due to a series of anomalies. From failure to register in the Revenue Agency register to the massive movement of cash, in some cases to subjects registered in the black lists of European databases. However, according to the Italian media, the indictment that was launched by the judicial office did not lead anywhere due to the lack of verifiable elements in the Palestinian territories.
This issue reached the Italian Parliament with an interrogation by Andrea Del Mastro Delle Vedove of the Brothers of Italy party (Fratelli d’Italia), but Hannoun continued with his activities and maintained relations with several Italian politicians belonging to the left-wing area such as Manlio Di Stefano, Alessandro Di Battista and Laura Boldrini.
In July 0f 2023, the Israeli Ministry of Defense asked the Italian police to seize Hannoun’s money. From the investigation conducted by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, it emerged that 500 thousand euros were available to the architect who in the past was accused by Israel, without any criminal repercussions, of hiding financial support to Palestinian suicide bombers.
These funds, according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, are “the property of, or in any case a reward for, a terrorist organization.” Therefore, “they must be seized”. As explained by the Italian news site Il Sussidiario, over the years, and on several occasions, the Italian intelligence services received reports of strange movements of Mohammad Hannoun’s associations, in particular of money.
As if it wasn’t enough, in August 2022, an investigative report published by OFCS Report, an Italian observatory with expertise in national and international security, exposed a series of political connections regarding Hannoun, on a national and international level, including photos of him next to Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal.
In the same report, Hannoun is pictured at the House of representatives next to Italian PMs such as Laura Boldrini, Matteo Orfini and Nicola Fratoianni, something that recently led the vice-president of the Italian Parliament Committee for the Security of the Republic, Giovanni Donzelli (Italian Brothers party) to ask for clarifications.
Going back to the initial issue, Hannoun’s statement depicting Hamas’ criminal actions as “self-defense” is something that a civilized society cannot accept and it is worth asking why this individual is allowed to make such a horrific statement, especially considering his background that is surely well known. What exactly is going on with Hannoun’s activities in Italy?
Things in Europe seem to be changing for Hamas and it couldn’t be any different, considering what the organization has done. On October 10th, the United Kingdom Home Office gave very clear directives to the Chief Constables, to the Police and Crime Commissioners; in sunto: Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK in its entirety (no distinction between political and military branch). It is therefore a criminal offence for a person in the UK to belong, support, advocate for Hamas. The Home Office also claims that it expects the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas (the full text can be read here).
In France, anti-Israel demonstrations in support of Hamas’ action were banned by the government and unauthorized demonstrations were dissolved by anti-riot police.
Hamas is today a terrorist organization that isn’t any different from ISIS or al-Qaeda. Is it therefore acceptable that the leader of a series of ambiguous Palestinian associations in Italy, who is surely known to decision makers and the intelligence community, with connections to the Italian political arena, is allowed to make such a statement? Isn’t this an insult to the slaughtered victims of terrorists? Harmless men, women, babies and elderly, Israelis and non-Israelis, slaughtered by Hamas. No, Mr. Hannoun, this is not self-defense, this crime against humanity and Hamas is a damnation to all: the Israelis, the Palestinians and the rest of the world.