US and Britain impose additional sanctions on Hamas officials

By Doina Chiacu

(Reuters) -The United States and Britain on Wednesday imposed an additional round of sanctions on people in Turkey and elsewhere who are linked to the Palestinian Hamas militant group, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

The sanctions target eight officials who advance Hamas’ agenda and interests abroad and help manage its finances, the Treasury said in a statement.

“Hamas continues to rely heavily on networks of well-placed officials and affiliates, exploiting seemingly permissive jurisdictions to direct fundraising campaigns for the group’s benefit and funneling those illicit proceeds to support its military activities in Gaza,” said Brian Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Several of the Hamas officials targeted were based in Turkey, including one of the group’s key financial operatives there, Haroun Mansour Yaqoub Nasser Al-Din, Treasury said.

Haroun Nasser Al-Din has been involved in a network that transferred money from Turkey and Gaza to the Hamas command center in the West Bank city of Hebron, it said, and helped subsidize Hamas activities to further unrest in the West Bank.

Nelson traveled to Oman and Turkey at the end of November to work on U.S. efforts to deny Hamas and other groups the ability to raise and move funds.

In the coordinated actions on Wednesday, Britain said it sanctioned seven additional people linked to Hamas, including Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’ co-founder, the foreign office said, and Ali Baraka, Hamas’s head of external relations who was also sanctioned by the United States.

The UK sanctions also target a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and figures in the financial network that backs Hamas, including individuals in Lebanon and Algeria.

“Hamas can have no future in Gaza. Today’s sanctions on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will continue to cut off their access to funding and isolate them further,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters that “the sanctions imposed by the United States and Britain against Hamas are unjustified and they make the two countries enemies of our people and our nation.”

Washington earlier imposed three rounds of sanctions on the Palestinian militant group after its deadly incursion into Israel on Oct. 7, which Israel says killed 1,200 people.

Other people cited by the United States included Ismail Musa Ahmad Barhum, who helped to collect money from global fundraising into Hamas finance ministry accounts, the Treasury Department said, and Jihad Muhammad Shaker Yaghmour, Hamas’ official representative to Turkey.

The sanctions targeted Mehmet Kaya, also based in Turkey, over his involvement in multiple money transfers on behalf of Hamas, “ultimately providing tens of millions of dollars of financial services for Hamas,” it said.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Additional reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi in Cairo and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Christina Fincher, Nick Macfie and Tomasz Janowski)