Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) The US government has imposed sanctions on 10 prominent figures in the Middle East for financing the militant outfit Hamas soon after President Joe Biden arrived in Israel and plunged into discussions with Israel leaders on how to prevent the war from blowing up into a larger Middle East crisis amid the hospital blast in Gaza.
The US imposed the financial sanctions on ten members and financiers of Hamas, in the Middle East , particularly Sudan , including figures tied to a covert investment portfolio meant to benefit the militant group, UK’s Independent reported.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement the new sanctions were targeted at “ten key Hamas terrorist group members, operatives, and financial facilitators in Gaza and elsewhere including Sudan, Turkiye, Algeria, and Qatar” as part of “a continuous effort by the US to root out Hamas’ sources of revenue in the West Bank and Gaza and across the region … in close coordination with regional partners and allies”.
Among those now subject to the US sanctions are Musa Muhammad Salim Dudin and Abdelbasit Hamza Elhassan Mohamed Khair — two Hamas financiers based in the West Bank and Sudan, respectively, reports said.
Dudin is a member of the group’s Political Bureau and Investment Office, who has also participated in negotiations over Hamas prisoners.
He is alleged to have worked to conceal Hamas’ interest in sanctioned companies by transferring their ownership.
He is also accused of working “directly” with another senior Hamas leader hit by sanctions, Yahya Ibrahim Hassan Sinwar, the Independent said .
Sudan based investor Hamza is alleged to have “managed numerous companies in Hamas’ investment portfolio and was previously involved in the transfer of almost $20 million to Hamas”, the Treasury Department said.
In the statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US was taking “swift and decisive action to target Hamas’ financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children”.
“We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorise the people of Israel.
“That includes by imposing sanctions and coordinating with allies and partners to track, freeze, and seize any Hamas-related assets in their jurisdictions,” she added.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken clarified in a statement that the US sanctions did not target Palestinians but aimed at Hamas terrorists and their support network.
“Hamas alone is responsible for the carnage its militants have inflicted on the people of Israel” and called on the group to “immediately release all hostages in its custody”.
The US sanctions were announced as President Joe Biden was in the midst of a visit to Tel Aviv meeting Israeli leaders that topped the one with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.
The President’s trip seemed in jeopardy last night as it came hours after an explosion at a Gaza hospital that killed at least 300 people, including many children and the meeting with the rulers of Jordan in Amman was abruptly cancelled.
President Biden, however, went ahead with the trip, described as a first war time visit by a US President, to show America’s steadfast support to Israel in the dark hours of terror in its history, reports said. The highest population of Jews outside of Israel live in New York. .
Addressing a joint meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the explosion.
The Israeli Defence Forces says the explosion was caused by a botched rocket attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Meanwhile, the PIJ has denied involvement and Hamas has blamed Israel, media reports said.
The president seemed to agree with the Israeli assessment in his comments to reporters in Tel Aviv.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you. But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we have to overcome a lot of things,” he said.