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US Treasury Freezes Assets of 3 Gaza Businessmen

US Treasury Freezes Assets of 3 Gaza Businessmen

Thursday, 24 October, 2019 - 08:30
A man walks away from the US Treasury Department in Washington, US, August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The US Treasury has frozen assets and bank accounts of businessmen from the Gaza Strip, accusing them of transferring funds from Iran to Hamas and Palestinian factions in Gaza and the West Bank, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported.

The move was made in cooperation with Israel, which stated that this was a direct hit at Palestinian organizations namely Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The three businessmen - Kamal Awad, Fawaz Nasser and Muhammad Al-Ayy - were central in facilitating money transfers to factions in Gaza. The amounts have reached millions of dollars over the past few years.

The three reside in Gaza but have businesses in the US and other regions. As part of their legitimate business actions, they occasionally went abroad leaving Gaza via Cairo. During their travels, they laundered millions for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Ayy is more important than Hamad Hadri, 34, who was killed six months ago by a joint operation by the army and Israel's Security Agency (Shin Bet).

According to a statement by the Israeli army, Hadri oversaw delivering enormous quantities of cash from Iran to terrorist groups in Gaza. The money collected by these launderers is transferred to the military wings of various terrorist organizations.

"We have increased our research capabilities to track these routes, and these actions unequivocally hurt the military wing of Hamas," the officer said.

"The organization tries to smuggle terrorist funds through covert ways that are hard to discover from an intelligence standpoint. Hamas decentralizes its cash flow as much as possible, not operating through a coherent ministry of finance," he added.

Hamas has been suffering from a financial crisis, which has led to wage cuts.

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