US targets Hamas financing with terror-related sanctions

Treasury Department says it will continue acting to disrupt the organisation's ability to raise funds

Israel's Iron Dome system intercepts rockets launched from Gaza, as seen from Ashkelon. The US is targeting Hamas funding with sanctions. Reuters
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Washington targeted 10 individuals linked to Hamas following the group's attack on Israel in a set of terrorism-related sanctions on Wednesday.

The sanctions aim to disrupt Hamas funding by targeting members managing a “secret Hamas investment portfolio”, as well as one financial facilitator with ties to Tehran and a Gaza-based virtual currency, the Treasury Department said.

Financial facilitators in Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar were also targeted.

“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

Ms Yellen said the country will continue to take steps to deny Hamas the ability to raise funds by co-ordinating with Washington's allies to track and freeze any assets associated with the group, which the US has designated a terrorist organisation.

“The US Treasury has a long history of effectively disrupting terror finance and we will not hesitate to use our tools against Hamas,” she said.

A Gaza-based virtual currency exchange business, Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company, is alleged to be involved in Hamas fund-raising and used to transfer funds to other terrorist groups. Israel seized a wallet belonging to Buy Cash in June 2021.

Hamas relies on cryptocurrency to evade other US sanctions.

A bipartisan group of 102 lawmakers on Tuesday had urged the Treasury Department and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on steps the Biden administration was talking to address Hamas's access to cryptocurrencies.

“Congress and this administration must take strong action to thoroughly address crypto illicit finance risks before it can be used to finance another tragedy,” the lawmakers wrote.

Two senior Hamas operatives were targeted, including Muhammad Ahmad ‘Abd Al-Dayim Nasrallah, who the US describes as a “longtime Hamas operative based in Qatar with close ties to Iranian elements”. Mr Nasrallah has allegedly been involved in transferring tens of millions of dollars to Hamas and its military wing.

Six people linked to the Hamas investment portfolio were sanctioned. One of them, Abdelbasit Hamza Elhassan Mohamed Khair, had previously been involved in transferring nearly $20 million to Hamas.

Washington's sanctions come as President Joe Biden visits Israel to demonstrate US support for the country.

Air Force One landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday morning, where Mr Biden was pictured embracing officials hours after more than 500 people were killed in a missile strike at Gaza's Al Ahli Arab hospital.

Hamas and Arab countries have blamed Israel, which has denied responsibility. Mr Biden said the strike appeared to have been done by “the other team”, pointing to data given to him by the Defence Department.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 1:53 PM