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Israel sanctions 20 entities in crackdown on Hamas investment

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued orders sanctioning companies in Sudan, Turkey, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for allegedly helping finance Hamas.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed orders today imposing restrictions on some 20 parties involved in Hamas’ investment mechanism, estimated in the millions of dollars. The orders designate these entities as associated with terrorism and include property seizures as well as personal sanctions on some Hamas senior figures. Several of the companies and people designated today have already been designated by US authorities as such.

Gantz tweeted, "Following joint work by the Shin Bet, the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing, the Defense Ministry and the Intelligence Division of the IDF, I signed orders today that will impose restrictions on Hamas' international investment system, whose scope of activity is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. The orders will also impose personal sanctions on senior officials of the organization, including the head of the investment system and member of the Hamas Shura Council Usama Ali."

Gantz added, "We will continue to support the transfer of funds for citizens and act against any attempt to funnel money intended to militarily strengthen the terrorist organization Hamas."

A statement by the Defense Ministry read that Hamas “covertly manages a mechanism valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, through a network of international companies that operate under the guise of legitimate companies” that conceal Hamas’ control of their holdings. “In this manner, the investment system has deceived authorities, customers and suppliers (including banks), which were unaware of the terrorist organization's ownership and control of these companies,” the statement added.

The designated companies are mostly groups engaged in real estate and infrastructure projects in various countries. They include the Sudan-based Al-Rowad Real Estate and Development Company that merged a decade ago with several Hamas companies in the country, the Saudi-based Anda Company, one of the group’s largest investors in the real estate and construction field, the Algerian-based Sidar and Aggregate Holding companies and other groups in Turkey and the Emirates.

Usama Ali, who is included in Gantz's announcement, was appointed head of Hamas’ investment mechanism five years ago. He reportedly coordinates financial transfers for the group and is involved with various business activities for Hamas. He has been a member of Hamas’ Shura Council. Israeli and US authorities believe Ali is in direct contact with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, with Haniyeh’s deputy Saleh Al-Arouri and other Hamas seniors.

The orders are expected to increase tensions with Gaza.

In other news today, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition for the release of Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who has been on hunger strike for nearly six months. His lawyer has been warning that Awawdeh is in grave danger. He is protesting being held by Israel in administrative detention, which enables Israeli authorities to detain people suspected of militant activities for months or years without charge or trial. He is suspected of ties with Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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