The European Union has adopted a dedicated sanctions regime targeting Palestinian terror group Hamas, a high-ranking EU official said Friday, adding that the first measures would target six people involved in the financing of Hamas.
“What we are doing now — it has been done today and I think it will be announced in the coming hours — [is that] we have adopted a dedicated regime for Hamas. We have listed six people,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The official added the six people were all from Arab or African countries and were all involved in financing Hamas, which has become the subject of Western reprisal after its assault on Israel in October.
At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that Israel had financed Hamas “in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah,”
Netanyahu is widely reported to have said on several occasions over the years that he sought to boost Hamas in order to fuel the schism within Palestinian society and alleviate international pressure for a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu has denied any such efforts.
“Yes, Hamas was financed by the government of Israel in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah,” Borrell said in a speech at the University of Valladolid in Spain, without elaborating.
Borrell added the only peaceful solution included the creation of a Palestinian state. And he suggested that this may need to be “imposed from the outside.”
Hamas carried out a surprise attack on southern Israel from Gaza on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and seizing around 240 hostages in the deadliest day in Israel’s history.
The Israeli government launched a counteroffensive in a bid to end Hamas’s rule over Gaza and release the hostages. The Gaza health ministry, run by Hamas, says the death toll in the Strip has passed 24,000 people, though figures from the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of the terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 9,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.
Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since 2007 after a brief civil war with forces loyal to the Fatah movement led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank.
Russia on Friday hosted a delegation of Hamas members, Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a statement
During the talks, the Russian side emphasized the need to release hostages, it added.
The Hamas delegation was led by senior official Moussa Abu Marzouk and the Russian team was led by deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov.
Moscow also said the humanitarian situation in Gaza had reached “catastrophic” levels.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he’d urged him to “drastically” reduce the level of violence against Palestinians amid the war with Hamas and to immediately pause fighting to let more aid into the war-battered enclave.
“Israel needs to let in much more relief goods, much quicker,” Rutte said. “We have talked about concrete measures to do so.”