Israel sanctioned 20 organizations and individuals working in the Middle East on Wednesday for allegedly aiding the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
According to the Defense Ministry, the penalties target an international network working “under the guise of legitimate companies” in Sudan, Turkey, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates.
In May, the United States imposed penalties on several of the same entities. Israel and the United States claim to be part of a Hamas-run financial network with assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Over the years, the Islamic militant group has carried out several lethal attacks against Israelis, and it took control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority 15 years ago.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and Western countries.
“We will continue to disrupt Hamas’ attempts to transfer funds meant for the terrorist organization’s force buildup,” stated Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Since the Hamas takeover, Israel and Egypt have maintained a severe siege on Gaza, which Israel claims is necessary to prevent Hamas from re-arming. Despite four deadly conflicts with Israel, the group has strengthened its military capabilities, especially the range of its missiles.
Palestinians and human rights organizations see the siege as collective punishment for Gaza’s more than 2 million Palestinian residents.
Even as it attempts to criticize Hamas, Israel has taken steps to reduce the blockade of Gaza during the last year in exchange for calm.
Those understandings with Hamas appear to have influenced the group’s choice to stay out of three days of severe fighting earlier this month between Israel and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group.