The United States Treasury Department sanctioned a network of three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies across the Middle East and North Africa that were generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the Iran-backed terrorist group by managing Hamas’ secret international investment portfolio.
In addition, the U.S. also sanctioned a senior Hamas finance official and affiliated companies under an executive order that allows for the blocking of the financial holdings of individuals or groups to stop the funding of terrorism.
Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg was in Israel to discuss her unit's efforts.
“Today’s action targets the individuals and companies that Hamas uses to conceal and launder funds,” said Rosenberg.
“Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions. Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“The United States is committed to denying Hamas the ability to generate and move funds and to holding Hamas accountable for its role in promoting and carrying out violence in the region,” she added.
The sanctions specifically targeted the senior officials of the Hamas Investment office and Hamas-affiliated companies, according to the U.S. Treasury Department press release.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), holds Hamas assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million, including companies operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The targeted Hamas officials include three Jordanian nationals – Ahmed Sharif Abdallah Odeh, former head of Hamas’ international investment portfolio until 2017; Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, based in Turkey and responsible for transferring funds on behalf of various companies linked to the investment portfolio; and a Kuwait-based accountant, Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, who had worked in the Hamas Finance Ministry for several years.
“Since at least 2018, Sabri has managed Hamas’ operational expenses and oversaw the transfer of large sums of money on behalf of Hamas, including transfers from Iran and Saudi Arabia, which he sent to Hamas members, units, and industries,” the U.S. Treasury press release continued.
Several of the sanctioned Hamas-affiliated companies were made to look like legitimate businesses, including the Algeria-based Sidar Company and the UAE-based Itqan Real Estate JSC. In reality, these companies were controlled by Hamas and transferred money to the terrorist group.
Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, denied all of the U.S. claims.
“The U.S. allegations are incorrect and they come in the course of siding with the Israeli occupation and spreading its false allegations,” Abu Zuhri said.
The U.S. has designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since October 1997 and had already added Hamas to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) list as far back as October 2001.
Israeli authorities recently foiled a Hamas plot to attack Israeli politicians including far-right Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir in Jerusalem. In addition, the terror cell reportedly planned to attack the Jerusalem light rail.
Following violent clashes with its rival Fatah in 2007, Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip and has ruled it with an iron fist ever since. The Islamist organization has also been increasing its influence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the expense of the Fatah party which is losing power.
The Palestinian Authority is run by the more secular Fatah party and formally governs the West Bank. However, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the endemic corruption of the PA, which has become particularly evident among the younger generations of Palestinians living in the West Bank.
In a recent student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank, Hamas won 28 seats compared to its rival Fatah, with a mere 18 seats.
Hamas’ increasing influence at the expense of Fatah concerns the international community and its efforts to implement a peaceful two-state solution.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.