The US State Department listed Haniyeh, along with two groups active in Egypt and one in the Palestinian territories, as specially designated global terrorists.

Hamas says the resistance will not be deterred after chief Ismail Haniyeh was listed as a terrorist by the US.
Hamas says the resistance will not be deterred after chief Ismail Haniyeh was listed as a terrorist by the US. (Reuters)

The US State Department said on Wednesday it had designated Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, as a terrorist.

The State Department said in a statement that Haniyeh, along with two groups active in Egypt and one in the Palestinian territories, were listed as specially designated global terrorists.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the designations "target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel."

TRT World's Muhannad Alami reports from Ramallah.

In Gaza, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said: "We reject and condemn the decision and we see it as a reflection of the domination by a gang of Zionists of the American decision.

"The decision is worthless," he added.

Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, does not recognise Israel, and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and some other Western countries.

TRT World spoke with the executive director of the Arab Center, Khalil Jahshan about the decision, which he says was unexpected.

"There were some steps that were being expected from the Trump administration regarding some measures of punishment of some sort towards the Palestinian authority," Jahsan told TRT World

"Nobody expected...this particular step to be taken against Hamas and [the] Hamas leader."

The State Department decision comes weeks after the US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December. In response, Haniyeh told a rally in Gaza marking the 30th anniversary of Hamas's founding: "We will knock down Trump's decision. No superpower is capable of offering Jerusalem to Israel, there is no Israel that it should have a capital named Jerusalem."

The three groups designated by the State Department are:

- Harakat al-Sabireen, which the statement said is backed by Iran, operates primarily in Gaza and the West Bank, and fired rockets into Israel.

- Liwa al-Thawra, which it said has claimed responsibility for killing an Egyptian army general in Cairo in 2016 and a bombing in 2017.

- Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM), which it said claimed responsibility for killing an Egyptian security officer and other attacks.

Source: Reuters