Turkey criticizes US terror designation for Hamas chief

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ANKARA: Turkey has denounced the US decision to put the head of Hamas on its terror blacklist, saying it hoped the move would not have a negative impact on Ankara’s humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The US State Department on Wednesday also slapped sanctions on Ismail Haniyeh, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017.

Hamas has been on the US terror blacklist since 1997 but Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party has friendly ties with the movement.

“We are concerned that this decision of the US administration, which disregards the realities on the ground, could undermine the Middle East peace process, including the efforts for intra-Palestinian peace and reconciliation,” Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

The moves comes as Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, has reached a fragile reconciliation deal with Fatah, the movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We also hope that the decision will not have a negative impact on our country’s humanitarian assistance and economic development activities toward Gaza.”

Aksoy said the move overlooked the fact that Hamas is “an important reality of Palestinian political life.”

Haniyeh is now on the US Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any US-based assets he may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki was visiting Turkey on Friday and Saturday to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces struck a Hamas position in Gaza on Friday after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave.
“An aircraft targeted a Hamas observation post in the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said.

The raid hit near Beit Hanoun in the north of the territory. There were no reports of any casualties, although a few nearby homes were damaged.

Local resident Mohammed Abu Jarad said he and his family had been forced to flee their home after two missiles hit.

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