Friday, March 19, 2010

US Imposes Sanctions on Hamas Bank and TV Station

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions against two companies it says are closely linked to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The US says it will freeze any assets held by the Gaza-based Islamic National Bank and broadcaster al-Aqsa Television in places under their jurisdiction.

INB provides banking to Hamas's military wing, and the broadcaster is financed by Hamas, the US say.

The US government has listed Hamas as a "terrorist organisation".

According to the US Treasury, the Hamas finance office in Gaza moved 1.1m euros ($1.5m) into the Islamic National Bank in May 2009 and used the funds to pay salaries of Hamas military wing members who held accounts at the bank.


The statement said INB was not operating under Palestinian Authority Banking regulations.

Al-Aqsa television has been accused of broadcasting program aimed at indoctrinating children to become armed fighters and suicide bombers.

They are Hamas' primary media outlet, the US treasury said.

"Treasury will continue to expose Hamas's efforts to create institutions with the trappings of legitimacy that are in fact controlled by and used to support a terrorist organization," said Stuart Levey, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Although designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the EU, it is seen by its supporters as a legitimate fighting force defending Palestinians from a brutal military occupation.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, following elections in 2006, and chased out their rival for control of the Palestinian Territories - the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in control of the West Bank.

Hamas and their military wing have launched hundreds of rocket attacks and sent suicide bombers into Israel.

US Treasury; AP; Reuters.

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