Top Hezbollah, Hamas Operatives Placed on U.S. Terror Blacklist

The listed terrorists include Hezbollah's Samir Kuntar, who took a family in Nahariya hostage in 1979, and Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif.

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Samir Kuntar in southern Beirut, July 17, 2008. Credit: AP

The United States State Department has placed Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese-born terrorist who spent over 30 years in Israeli prison, on its terror blacklist.

Also placed on the list were prominent Hamas operatives Muhammed Deif, currently head of the Hamas' armed wing the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Yahya Sinwar and Rawhi Mushtaha.

As Specially Designated Global Terrorists, the assets of all four in areas under U.S. jurisdiction can be seized and Americans are forbidden from doing business with them.

Kuntar has become a prominent figure in the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah since his release by Israel in a prisoner exchange in 2008.

"He has also played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hezbollah's terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights" the State Department said.

Kuntar gained notoriety in April 1979, when he and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated the seaside town of Nahariya in northern Israel by sea from Lebanon and took members of the Haran family hostage in their Nahariya home.

The father, Danny, and his 4-year-old daughter Einat were subsequently killed on the beach, allegedly by Kuntar himself, who was aged 16 at the time. The mother, Smadar, accidently smothered her younger daughter Yael while hiding in the apartment.

Two of the attackers were killed in a shoot-out with Israeli security forces, while Kuntar – shot and wounded five times – was arrested along with the fourth member of the gang, Ahmad Abras.

Kuntar and Abras were each sentenced to five life terms plus 47 years for murder.

The State Department described Deif as "the top commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. He is known for deploying suicide bombers and directing the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. During the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Deif was the mastermind of Hamas’s offensive strategy."

Sinwar, described as a founder of the forerunner of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, was arrested in 1988 and sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers. He was released in the 2011 prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Mushtaha, also described as a founder of the forerunner of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, was serving four life sentences for murder and terrorism when he was released in the Shalit exchange.

Both Sinwar and Mushtaha have called for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and citizens, according to the State Department.