In reaction to the unexpected attack on Israel that resulted in over 1,000 deaths or kidnappings, the United States on Wednesday sanctioned ten Hamas members as well as the financial network of the Palestinian militant group throughout Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria, and Qatar.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department has designated as targets for sanctions individuals who oversee a portfolio of Hamas investments, a financial facilitator based in Qatar with strong connections to the Iranian government, a commander in Hamas, and a virtual currency exchange based in Gaza.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. “is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children.”
“The U.S. Treasury has a long history of effectively disrupting terror finance and we will not hesitate to use our tools against Hamas,” she said in an emailed statement.
Sanctions are financial penalties designed to keep people and corporations from doing business with Americans and to prohibit them from accessing cash kept in the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the sanctions are “directed at Hamas terrorists and their support network, not Palestinians.”
“Hamas alone is responsible for the carnage its militants have inflicted on the people of Israel, and it should immediately release all hostages in its custody,” Blinken said. “The United States will not relent in using all the tools at our disposal to disrupt Hamas terrorist activity.”
The Treasury Department said that three operatives and a financier for Hamas have been sanctioned. Additionally, the United States claimed that two Hamas operatives—one located in Qatar and the other believed to have died in an airstrike on Tuesday—were sanctioned for their actions on behalf of Hamas. Sanctions were also imposed on the proprietor of a Gaza-based business that offers services for virtual currency exchange and money transfers.
The Treasury Department made clear that tiny donations, particularly those made with cryptocurrencies, are essential to Hamas’ operations. “To the extent that Hamas has used crypto in the past, it is a relatively small and alternative source of funding,” according to bitcoin tracking company Elliptic, and it has shown itself to be susceptible to interruption and identification.
The White House has stated that it has not yet come across any evidence linking Iran, the main military and financial backer of Hamas, to direct involvement in the multifaceted Hamas campaign, which represents the worst assault on Israel in decades. According to U.S. authorities, Tehran is not to blame and their intelligence does not indicate that Iran played a direct role.
Wally Adeyemo, the deputy secretary of the Treasury, said reporters on Wednesday that Treasury representatives will be visiting the area in the next few days to continue their work on sanctions.
Brian Nelson, U.S. Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and illicit finance, said at a Deloitte anti-money laundering conference on Tuesday that the U.S. is renewing its plans to pursue Hamas funding streams and made a call for American allies and the private sector to do the same or “be prepared to suffer the consequences.”
“We cannot, and we will not, tolerate money flowing through the international system for Hamas’ terrorist activity,” Nelson said.
“We want to partner with all willing countries and financial entities to stop Hamas financing,” he said, “but to the extent that any institution or jurisdiction fails to take appropriate action, they should then be prepared to suffer the consequences.”
Mohammed Deif, the enigmatic head of Hamas’ military wing, claimed that among other things, the attack on Israel on October 7 was a reaction to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli assaults into West Bank communities in the previous year, an increase in settler attacks against Palestinians, and the expansion of settlements.
Deif, who doesn’t go out in public, stated in the recorded message, “Enough is enough.” Declaring that the bombing was simply the beginning of Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, he urged Palestinians living in northern Israel and east Jerusalem to join the conflict.
In an attempt to ease tensions in the rapidly intensifying conflict between Israel and Hamas, President Joe Biden travelled to the Middle East early on Wednesday. However, his attempts have been severely thwarted, most notably by an explosion at a Gaza hospital that claimed the lives of over 500 people.
Regarding who was in charge of the hospital explosion, there were differing opinions. The Israeli airstrike was promptly blamed by Gaza officials. Israel denied any involvement and then published a barrage of audio, video, and other materials claiming that Islamic Jihad, another militant organisation active in Gaza, misfired a missile, causing the catastrophe. That assertion was refuted by the Islamic Jihad. No claim or piece of evidence made public by the parties has been independently confirmed by the AP.