The United States has designated Ismail Haniya, the senior political leader of Hamas, as a “global terrorist”.
The US State Department issued a press release on Wednesday saying that Haniya “has close links with Hamas’ military wing” and “has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians”.
Haniya’s placement on the “terror list” means that there will be a travel ban on him, and that any US-based financial assets he may have will be frozen.
There will also be a ban on any US citizen or company from doing business with him.
.@StateDept has designated Ismail Haniyeh, Harakat al-Sabireen, Liwa al Thawra, and Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. Full details: https://t.co/6rmZD6rogE
— State Dept CT Bureau (@StateDeptCT) January 31, 2018
Hamas, which governs the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, was founded in 1987 on a strategy of armed struggle against the occupation, and has a military wing known as the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Haniya, 54, was elected to be the group’s political chief in May 2017, replacing Khaled Meshaal. Born in a refugee camp in Gaza, the leader has long been seen as pragmatic and flexible in his attitudes towards Israel, and support for a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one.
Speaking to international media from the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said the US’ decision is part of a wider campaign against Palestinians since President Donald Trump came into office in January 2017- one year ago.
“It is obvious that this animosity from the US administration towards the Palestinians is unprecedented – with its unconditional support of Israel and its decision surrounding Jerusalem, and cutting its funding to the UN refugee agency [UNRWA],” said Hamad.
Hamas has not issued a formal response to the US decision, but is expected to do so later on Wednesday.