The United States and Britain imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Tuesday targeting Hamas as they seek to cut off funding for the militant Palestinian group following its deadly attack on Israel last month.
The United States announced its third round of sanctions since the attack, targeting key Hamas officials and the mechanisms through which Iran provides support to Hamas and its ally Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another militant group.
Britain added sanctions on four Hamas senior leaders and two financiers, the Foreign Office said in a statement, including the group’s political leader in Gaza and the commander of its military arm.
“The United States will continue to work with our partners, including the UK, to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“Hamas’s actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation. Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.”
Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas after the militant group’s fighters burst across the fence around the Gaza enclave on Oct. 7 and rampaged through Israeli towns, killing civilians. Israel says 1 200 people were killed and around 240 were dragged back to Gaza as hostages on the deadliest day of its 75-year history.
Medical officials in Hamas-run Gaza say more than 11,000 people are confirmed dead from Israeli strikes, around 40% of them children, and countless others trapped under rubble. Around two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been made homeless, unable to escape the crowded territory where food, fuel, fresh water and medical supplies are running out.
Since the Oct. 7 attack, Washington has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Hamas. It has targeted the group’s investment portfolio and issued an alert to financial institutions on countering Hamas financing while senior officials have discussed the group’s access to funds on trips abroad.
Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Britain and others.
Washington’s action on Tuesday specifically targeted Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar, a senior member and co-founder of Hamas, the PIJ’s representative to Iran and the Damascus-based deputy secretary general of PIJ and leader of its militant wing.
Lebanon-based money exchange company Nabil Chouman & Co was also targeted, along with its owner and founder, who was also targeted by Britain. The Treasury said Hamas uses the company to transfer money from Iran to Gaza and accused it of having transferred tens of millions of dollars to the group.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a separate statement, said Iran’s support enables Hamas and PIJ activities, including through the transfer of funds and the provision of weapons and operational training, adding that Tehran had trained PIJ fighters to produce and develop missiles in Gaza.
Washington’s move freezes any US assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those who engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.
US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters NEXT last week that efforts to cut off Hamas funding would increasingly focus on facilitators in third countries, and that it would take coordination with allies and partners to shut off those avenues. His recent trip to Europe centered on fostering more cooperation in this area.