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Israel sanctions 20 people and companies accused in Hamas money laundering front

Defense Minister Gantz says terror group manages hundreds of millions in investments through a network of shell companies in various countries

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a press conference in Ramat Gan, August 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a press conference in Ramat Gan, August 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order Wednesday imposing economic sanctions on 20 individuals and organizations accused of laundering money internationally for the Hamas terror group.

According to a statement from Gantz’s office, Hamas manages investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars through a network of shell companies “operating under the guise of legitimate companies and concealing Hamas’s control over their holdings.”

These primarily real estate and infrastructure projects operate in Sudan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, the statement said, adding that local authorities and financial institutions were unaware Hamas was behind the companies.

The Defense Ministry, in conjunction with the Headquarters for Economic Warfare Against Terrorism and the IDF Intelligence Corps, estimated the scope of Hamas’s holdings at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Companies named include Al-Rowad for Real Estate Development Company Ltd. in Sudan; Anda, a Saudi real estate and construction company; and Algeria-based Sidar Company and Agrogate Holding.

The Defense Ministry identified Osama Ali, a member of the Hamas ruling council, saying he has headed the investment system since 2017, and has been designated a terrorist along with other Hamas officials involved in the laundering scheme. The Defense Ministry said that Ali maintains direct contact with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as well as other officials.

Osama Ali, member of the Hamas ruling council and head of Hamas investments since 2017. (Defense Ministry)

“This is a significant operational and international announcement,” Gantz said.

“Our policy is clear: We will continue to support the flow of money that goes to civilians (in Gaza) — and we will continue to thwart any attempt to send money that goes to strengthen the military capabilities of the Hamas terrorist organization,” he added.

The Defense Ministry noted that this move aligns Israel with sanctions the United States imposed on Hamas assets in May, which it estimated to total over $500 million.

The US Treasury Department named and sanctioned individuals it said were involved in Hamas investments, including the portfolio’s previous manager Ahmed Sharif Abdallah Odeh, under a 2001 executive order that allows for the financial holdings of designated individuals or groups to be blocked in order to stem terror funding.

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