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U.S. authorities have imposed sanctions on 10 Hamas-linked individuals and organizations in a crackdown on funding sources supporting the Palestinian militant group amid the escalating conflict with Israel.
The US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six Hamas members who manage assets in a secret investment portfolio. Action was also taken against two senior Hamas officials – one of the group’s commanders and a Qatar-based “financial intermediary with close ties to the Iranian regime.”
The ministry also imposed sanctions on Buy Cash, a Gaza-based virtual wallet, and its operators. The platform, which could not be reached for comment, offers money transfer and crypto services including Bitcoin.
“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and supporters following its brutal and ruthless massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement, adding that Ministry “would not hesitate” to use its tools to disrupt the group’s funding.
“This includes imposing sanctions and coordinating with allies and partners to locate, freeze and seize all Hamas-related assets in their jurisdictions,” Yellen said.
The parties affected by the sanctions are based in Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar.
While Hamas receives significant financial support from Iran, it also generates revenue through a secret investment portfolio that includes assets from various jurisdictions, including Sudan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Wally Adeyemo said , Deputy Minister of Finance .
That portfolio, which triggered previous U.S. sanctions, has allowed “senior Hamas officials to live in luxury elsewhere in the Middle East, while ordinary Palestinians in Gaza face harsh living conditions and bleak economic prospects,” he said.
Senior Treasury officials will travel to the region “in the coming days” to continue working with partners who have shed light on “Hamas’ financial underbelly,” Adeyemo said. Officials will then visit Europe to talk with allies about cutting off Hamas’s access to euros and dollars, according to a senior Treasury Department official.
Adeyemo said steps could be taken to disrupt terrorist financing “while legitimate humanitarian assistance continues to flow into the region.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday’s sanctions were aimed at Hamas and its support network, not the Palestinians.
“Hamas alone is responsible for the carnage that its militants have inflicted on the Israeli people, and it should immediately release all hostages in its custody,” he said in a statement. “The United States will not relent and will use every means at our disposal to disrupt Hamas’ terrorist activities.”
The sanctions come as US President Joe Biden traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the country, stop the spread of conflict in the region and facilitate humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
The Biden administration is under increasing political pressure to stop funding Hamas. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined more than 100 bipartisan lawmakers in sending a letter to the White House and Treasury Department on Tuesday following reports that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad received millions of dollars through cryptocurrencies in the lead-up to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel had collected.
Lawmakers called for swift action “to significantly curb illegal crypto activity and protect our national security and that of our allies.”
The Treasury Department and the White House did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Source : www.ft.com