The United States government has designated Hamas Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh as a specially designated terrorist, becoming the first country outside of Israel to do so, Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism told The Jerusalem Post.
“Ismail Haniyeh has been involved in Hamas’ campaign of terrorism against Israel for years and even decades. The United States is not fooled by any attempt by Hamas to rebrand itself. We know it for what it is, a terror organization committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by US President Donald Trump on December 6, Haniyeh called for a violent uprising in response to the move that he vowed would continue until “Jerusalem’s liberation.”
According to Sales, the consequences of this designation under executive order 13224 which aims to impede terrorist funding, is “significant.”
“All assets belonging to Haniyeh under US jurisdiction will be frozen,” Sales told The Post.“This designation allows us to dry up the sources of funding and kick them out of the international financial system. We don’t want to only stop the bomber, but the person who buys the bombs.”
Israeli officials have accused Iran of growing involvement in funding terror groups such as Hamas to carry out attacks against the Jewish State, with IDF Chief of Staff stating that the Islamic Republic had increased its funding to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to the tune of $100 million in order to have more influence in the Gaza Strip.
According to Sales, while the increased ties between Hamas and Iran do play a role in the designation, the Trump’s administration’s top priority is to defeat terrorism “in all its forms” that threaten the United States and its allies.
“Israel is of course one of our closest allies, especially when it comes to counter terrorism. We have a strong interest in ensuring the continued security of Israel and so groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which threaten Israel on a daily basis, we will do what we can to put pressure to bear on those groups.”
While the United States is the first country outside Israel to designate Haniyeh, other Hamas members such as Yahya Sinwar and Muhammed Deif were designated in September 2015.
In addition to Haniyeh’s designation, the United States will also be designating Harkaat al-Sabareen, an Iranian-backed terror group in the Gaza Strip which broke from Islamic Jihad in May 2014.
“This group has launched rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and has also planned deadly terror attacks,” Sales said, adding that the group is part of Iran’s network of terror organizations which it uses to spread its influence around the world.
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