US Treasury sanctions Hamas official and financial network
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official and a network of financial facilitators and companies that have reportedly generated revenue for the Gaza-based movement.
The sanctions target Hamas's investment office, which holds assets estimated to be worth more than $500m, including companies operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
"Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions," said Elizabeth Rosenberg, assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas on the newly announced sanctions.
Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, the sanctioned Hamas official, is a Kuwait-based Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in Hamas's finance ministry for several years, the Treasury Department said.
The companies sanctioned included Sudan-based Agrogate Holding; Algeria-based Sidar Company; UAE-based Itqan Real Estate JSC; Turkey-based Trend GYO; and the Saudi Arabia-based Anda Company, the department added.
"The United States is committed to denying Hamas the ability to generate and move funds and to holding it to account for its role in promoting and carrying out violence," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
The Hamas movement is already blacklisted by the US as a terrorist group and has been for decades. The US designated the movement as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) in 1997. In the past year, other western countries including Australia and the UK also listed the group in its entirety as a terrorist organisation, further isolating Hamas.
US lawmakers have also recently been trying to pass legislation aimed at strengthening the existing sanctions.
That legislation, introduced last July, would also require the US government to issue an annual report identifying "each foreign person or agency or instrumentality of a foreign state" that provides significant financial or material support to Hamas or affiliate groups.
Israeli authorities have meanwhile been pushing to seize cryptocurrency accounts allegedly linked to Hamas. In February, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz issued an order to seize 30 cryptocurrency wallets owned by an exchange company in Gaza.
A Hamas official told the Wall Street Journal last year that since the Israeli offensive on Gaza in May, which killed more than 260 Palestinians, the movement received a surge in cryptocurrency donations.