U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner slammed comments on Monday made by a Hamas leader who criticized the U.S. for killing 'holy warrior' Osama bin Laden.
Ismael Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, said in response to the U.S. operation against bin Laden "we regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood."
Toner said Haniyeh's comments were "outrageous."
"It goes without saying bin Laden was a murderer and a terrorist. He ordered the killings of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and many of whom were Muslim," Toner said.
Though he noted doctrinal differences between bin Laden's al-Qaida and Hamas, Haniyeh said: "We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs."
Toner said of bin Laden that "did not die a martyr. He died hiding in a mansion or a compound far away from the violence that was carried out in his name. And his defeat is a victory for all human beings seeking to live in peace, security and dignity."
Toner also talked about the planned Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal which is set to be signed in Cairo on Wednesday.
Representatives from Hamas and Fatah announced their intention to reconcile last week, after a four-year-long bitter and at times violent rift, which saw Hamas administering the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the control of the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority.
"Our long-stated policy on this is that if Hamas wants to play a political role or a role in the political process, then it needs to abide by the Quartet principles," Toner said. "It needs to accept those principles, which are renouncing violence and terrorism, recognizing Israel's right to exist and abiding by previous diplomatic agreements."
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