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Hundreds rally in Gaza over US blacklisting of Haneyya as terrorist

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Gaza2Feb5GAZA (PNIC):-Hundreds of Palestinians took to Gaza's western streets at nightfall Thursday, condemning the US decision to blacklist Hamas chief Ismail Haneyya as a “global terrorist”.

The rally kicked off following Ishaa (evening) prayers at mosques west of Gaza city.

Hamas chief Ismail Haneyya and a number of the group’s leaders were in attendance.

Speaking at the rally, ex-prisoner Iyad Abu Fanouna said: “The real terrorists are the Israelis who have been murdering Palestinian children.”

“The real terrorists are the ones who sowed in the seeds of occupation in our soil and fed it by weapons and missiles to strike Palestinian homes,” added Abu Fanouna.

The US State Department issued a press release on Wednesday blacklisting Haneyya as a “global terrorist”.

Haneyya’s placement on the "terror list" means that there will be a travel ban on him, and that any US-based financial assets he may have will be frozen.

Hamas, which is headquartered in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, was founded in 1987 on a strategy of armed struggle against the occupation, and has a military wing known as the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Haneyya, 54, was elected to be the group's political chief in May 2017, replacing Khaled Meshaal. Born in a refugee camp in Gaza, the leader has long been seen as pragmatic and flexible in his attitudes.

The animosity shown by the US administration towards the Palestinians has reached unprecedented levels over recent months, with its unconditional support of Israel and its decision surrounding Jerusalem, and cutting its funding to the UN refugee agency (UNRWA).

In a major break with decades of US policy, Trump announced on December 6 that the US formally recognizes Occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. The move unleashed protests across the occupied Palestinian territories and in major cities around the world.

And, on January 17, the US government decided to cut more than half of its planned funding to the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees - an institution that has been the lifeline to more than five million registered Palestinian refugees for over 70 years.

To thousands across the occupied Palestinian territories and the world, Haneyya stands as an icon of anti-occupation resistance.

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