US and UK impose fresh sanctions on Hamas, targeting money transfers from Iran to Gaza

The United States on Tuesday said it has imposed sanctions on a group of Hamas officials and members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) who work to transfer money from Iran to Gaza. A Lebanese money exchange service that facilitates the transfers has also been sanctioned. 

The sanctions are being coordinated with the United Kingdom and are aimed at protecting the international financial system from abuse by Hamas militants and their enablers, the Treasury Department announced Tuesday.

The sanctions block the targeted entities from accessing U.S. property and bank accounts while also preventing them from doing business with Americans.

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The sanctions are the third set since the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel that killed about 1,200 people with more than 240 people taken hostage. Previous sanctions were announced on Oct. 18 and Oct. 27 designating Hamas operatives and its financial facilitators.

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said the sanctions will ensure the U.S. continues to deny Hamas its ability to raise and use funds to carry out attacks.

“Hamas’ actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation,” Yellen said in a statement Tuesday.

“Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.”

According to the Treasury, Iran enables Hamas and PIJ’s terrorist activities primarily through its support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including through the transfer of funds and the provision of weapons and training. Iran has trained PIJ fighters to produce and develop missiles in Gaza while it has also funded groups that provide financial support to PIJ-affiliated fighters.

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In response, the Treasury on Tuesday designated seven individuals who have provided support to Hamas or the PIJ, as well as two Lebanon-based money exchange companies. Nabil Chouman & Co. has helped facilitate the transfer of money from Iran to Gaza, and Reda Ali Khamis was involved in facilitating financial transfers from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Treasury said. 

Additionally, two key Hamas officials, Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar and Mu’ad Ibrahim Muhammed Rashid al-Atili, have been designated for diplomatic sanctions.

The State Department is also designating Akram al-Ajouri for sanctions. Ajouri is the PIJ deputy secretary general and leader of its terrorist wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, the State Department said. 

The sanctions come as 400 government officials from 40 departments and agencies within President Biden’s administration signed a letter opposing the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war and demanded a cease-fire.

The measures also come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a dire warning to America that it may be “next” if the IDF doesn’t decimate Hamas.

“If we don’t win now, then Europe is next and you’re next. And we have to win,” Netanyahu said Monday during an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity. 

“We have to win to protect Israel. We have to win to safeguard the Middle East. We have to win for the sake of the civilized world. That’s the battle we’re fighting, and it’s being waged right now. There is no substitute for that victory.”

Netanyahu also repeated his vow against a cease-fire without the release of the hostages, calling it a “surrender to Hamas” if the Israeli captives aren’t returned safely. 

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