United States designates Hamas leader as terrorist

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The State Department's statement explicitly accused Haniyeh of involvement in terror attacks against Israelis.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and is held responsible by the United States for the killing of 17 Americans in attacks.

Speaking 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.

Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, is already designated a terrorist group by the US, Israel, the European Union and UK.

Haniya is now on the US Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any US-based assets he may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him.

It was a failed attempt to keep pressure on the Palestinian armed resistance, Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem said in an emailed statement.

Iran "continues to support a rogues' gallery of terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others", Nathan Sales, the US State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism, said in a speech to an Israeli think tank on Wednesday.

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Alami was described by the Post as a Hamas "hard-liner" who supported the group's "ties with Iran".

"Today's actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities", he added.

Tillerson was referring to Haniyeh, under who Hamas has grown closer to Iran, and the group, Harakat al-Sabireen, which was formed in 2014 in Gaza and is backed by Iran.

Born in 1963 in the Gaza Strip, he was exiled by Israel to southern Lebanon in 1992, along with scores of Hamas leaders, for about a year.

The move came amid rising tensions between the USA and the Palestinians, which boiled over in December after President TrumpDonald John TrumpStormy Daniels on statement denying Trump affair: "I do not know where it came from" Five Takeaways from Trump's State of the Union Van Jones: Trump "selling sweet-tasting candy with poison in it" MORE recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"It is obvious that this animosity from the USA administration towards the Palestinians is unprecedented - with its unconditional support of Israel and its decision surrounding Jerusalem, and cutting its funding to the United Nations refugee agency [UNRWA]", said Hamad. Washington says the new embassy will open in Jerusalem in 2019.

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