Israel imposes sanctions on companies accused of financing Hamas
Israel on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 20 companies and individuals operating across the Middle East which it claims are financing the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The sanctions are directed against what the defense ministry claimed is an international network operating "under the guise of legitimate companies" in Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.
The US announced sanctions against many of the same entities in May. Israel and the US say they are part of a Hamas-run financial network with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
Israel and Western countries consider Hamas a terrorist organisation.
The movement has run Gaza since 2007, shortly after an armed dispute with Fatah broke out after the Islamist movement won Palestinian elections.
The Palestinian enclave has since been subject to a punishing siege and a series of devastating military assaults by Israel.
"We will continue to thwart Hamas’ attempts to funnel funds intended for the terrorist organization’s force buildup," Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement.
The Palestinians and human rights groups view the blockade on Gaza as a form of collective punishment on the strip's more than 2 million Palestinian residents. The blockade has led to mass unemployment and poverty as communities are cut off from investment and essential resources.
Even as it tries to sanction Hamas, Israel has also taken steps to ease the Gaza blockade over the past year in return for calm. It has also killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in air strikes and shelling.
Hamas stayed out of three days of heavy fighting between Israel and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group earlier this month.