US adds senior Hamas commander to economic sanctions blacklist
Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, take part in a rally marking the 29th anniversary of the creation of the movement on December 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
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The US State Department declared a senior commander of the Palestinian group Hamas, Abu Anas al-Ghandour, a "specially designated global terrorist," on Thursday, adding his name to its economic sanctions blacklist.
The State Department said Ghandour is a former Hamas Shura council and political bureau member who now leads a Hamas brigade in Gaza.
Ghandour "has been involved in many terrorist operations," it said, including a 2006 attack on an Israeli military outpost at the Kerem Shalom border crossing which left two Israeli soldiers dead and four wounded.
That attack resulted in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years before he was freed in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
Ghandour was also one of the targets of a March 2015 lawsuit in the United States by 26 Americans and dual Israeli-American citizens against Hamas for alleged war crimes during the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza.
The terrorist designation effectively bans Americans from any involvement or business relations with Ghandour and freezes any assets he may have in the US.
In response to the State Department's action on Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called it "an attempt to invert the real situation, because the real terrorist is the one who furnishes the arms of the occupier (Israel) to kill the children of Palestine," an allusion to the United States.