US targets 'secret Hamas investment portfolio' in new sanctions

The Biden administration announced new sanctions on Hamas on Wednesday targeting the militant group’s vast financial network as the U.S. backs Israel’s war against the militant organization in Gaza.

The sanctions target 10 members of Hamas, as well as a Qatar-based financial facilitator with ties to Iran, a top Hamas commander and a cryptocurrency exchange based in Gaza.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that 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.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed more than 1,200 Israelis and 3,400 Palestinians, according to the two governments. It began earlier this month with a Hamas surprise attack that killed at least 1,000 Israelis.

President Biden traveled to Israel early Wednesday morning to meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and show his support for the country in the conflict. 

He was also scheduled to meet with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the West Bank, but that meeting was canceled after more than 450 people were killed in a strike on a hospital in Gaza, sparking massive protests across the Middle East. 

The sanctions specifically target Hamas members and allies based in Sudan, Turkey, Algeria, and Qatar as well as Gaza, the Treasury Department said.

The administration argues that Hamas operates a “secret investment portfolio” of legitimate front businesses all across the Middle East, providing the organization with funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This investment network is directed by the highest levels of Hamas leadership and has allowed Hamas senior officials to live in luxury while ordinary Palestinians in Gaza struggle in harsh living and economic conditions,” the department said in a statement.

Hamas was already under significant U.S. sanction since being designated as a terrorist organization in 1997.

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