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US sanctions 10 Hamas members and its financial network for surprise attack on Israel

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Wednesday sanctioned a group of 10 Hamas operatives and the Palestinian militant organization’s financial network in Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar in response to the surprise attack against Israel which left more than 1,000 dead or injured. kidnapped.

The sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control are members who manage a portfolio of Hamas investments, a Qatar-based financial facilitator with close ties to the Iranian regime, a Hamas commander and office virtual currency exchange based in Gaza.

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

“The U.S. Treasury has a long history of effectively disrupting terrorist financing and we will not hesitate to use our tools against Hamas,” she said in an emailed statement.

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Sanctions are financial sanctions intended to block access to funds held in the United States and prevent individuals and entities from doing business with American individuals and companies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the sanctions are “directed against Hamas terrorists and their support network, not the Palestinians.”

“Hamas is solely responsible for the carnage its militants have inflicted on the Israeli people, and it should immediately release all hostages in its custody,” Blinken said. “The United States will not hesitate to use every tool at its disposal to disrupt Hamas’ terrorist activities. »

A Hamas financier and several Hamas members were sanctioned, the Treasury Department said. Additionally, a Qatar-based Hamas operative and a Hamas military relations commander, who was reportedly killed in an airstrike on Tuesday, were sanctioned for acting on Hamas’ behalf, the United States said. Additionally, a Gaza-based company that provides money transfer and virtual currency exchange services was hit with sanctions, as was its owner.

The Treasury Department has emphasized that Hamas relies on small dollar donations, including through cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency tracking firm Elliptic said that “to the extent that Hamas has used crypto in the past, it is a relatively small and alternative source of funding” and has proven vulnerable to detection and to disturbances.

The White House said it had not yet uncovered information that Iran, Hamas’ main financial and military sponsor, was directly involved in Hamas’ multi-pronged operation – the largest attack against Israel for decades. U.S. officials said their intelligence did not demonstrate a direct Iranian role and did not point the finger at Tehran.

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Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters on Wednesday that Treasury officials would travel to the region in the coming days to continue their sanctions work.

Brian Nelson, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and illicit financing, said Tuesday at a Deloitte anti-money laundering conference that the United States is renewing plans to pursue sources of funding of Hamas and called on American allies and the private sector to do what was necessary. same thing or “be prepared to suffer the consequences”.

“We cannot, and we will not, tolerate money flowing through the international system to finance Hamas’ terrorist activities,” Nelson said.

“We want to work with all countries and financial entities willing to stop funding Hamas,” he said, “but to the extent that any institution or jurisdiction fails to take appropriate action, it must then be prepared to suffer the consequences. »

The shadow leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, said the October 7 attack on Israel was a response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids on West Bank towns over the of the past year, to the increase in settler attacks against Palestinians and the growth of settlements, among other reasons.

“Enough is enough,” Deif, who does not appear publicly, said in the recorded message. He said the attack was just the beginning of what he called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, and he called on Palestinians from East Jerusalem to northern Israel to join in combat.

President Joe Biden, arriving early Wednesday in the Middle East to show support for Israel, tried to ease tensions in the escalating war between Israel and Hamas, but those efforts were met with massive setbacks, including an explosion at a hospital in Gaza that killed around 500 people.

Claims about who was responsible for the hospital explosion were contradictory. Gaza officials quickly blamed an Israeli airstrike. Israel denied any involvement and released a series of videos, audio and other information that it said showed the explosion was instead due to misfiring missiles by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. Islamic Jihad rejected this claim. The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence published by the parties.

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