The United States has designated the political leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a terrorist and imposed sanctions on him.
The state department said Ismail Haniya had “close links with Hamas’ military wing” and been a “proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians”.
Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, is already designated a terrorist group by the US, Israel, the EU and UK.
It denounced as “worthless” the blacklisting of Mr Haniya.
A statement from the group said the decision would “not dissuade us from continuing to hold fast to the option of resisting and expelling the [Israeli] occupation”.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and is held responsible by the US for the killing of 17 Americans in attacks.
The state department also designated three militant groups as terrorist entities:
- Harakat al-Sabireen, an Iranian-backed group that operates primarily in the Gaza and the West Bank and is led by Hisham Salem, the former leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It is accused of planning and executing attacks, including firing rockets from Gaza into Israel
- Liwa al-Thawra, a group active in Egypt’s Qalyubia and Menoufia provinces that has said it was behind the assassination of an Egyptian army commander in Cairo in 2016 and the bombing of a police training centre in Tanta in 2017
- HASM, another Egyptian group that has claimed it assassinated an officer from Egypt’s National Security Agency and carried out an attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo
“These 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,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities,” he added.