Analysis reveals just 28 living Arab terrorists in Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria personally sanctioned by the US, including Mohammed Deif and Yahya Sinwar. The violence the Jews are accused of, is less than over a parking spot in Tel Aviv.
The recent campaign on ‘settler violence’ has now born concrete action from the Biden administration with the sanctioning of four Jewish residents.
Israeli media recently reported that several Israeli banks have closed the accounts of the sanctioned individuals to comply with the US sanctions and avoid the risk of being exiled from the US-led financial system.
To understand the unprecedented and disproportionate nature of this action by the Biden administration, I reviewed the list of US sanctioned individuals to understand if these sanctions were proportionate and justifiable.
Ultimately, I’m convinced they are not.
The US Department of Treasury publishes its full list of Specially Designated Nationals (referred to as the “SDN list”). As of Monday Feb. 5th, it contained 13,915 sanctioned entities of which just over half (6,694) are individuals, with the remainder being mostly organizations like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as aircrafts and vessels such as luxury yachts and private planes belonging to oligarchs.
Sanctioned individuals in Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria
To compare the new sanctioned individuals with other sanctioned individuals in Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria, I searched for people who listed a location as either ‘Israel’, ‘Gaza’, ‘West Bank,’ or ‘Palestinian.’ Of these, I count 9 as being listed in Israel, including one of the 4 new sanctioned Israelis- Einan Tanjil. The other eight Israelis are unrelated to the Israeli-Arab conflict and are alleged to be involved in corruption in former Soviet countries, illegal diamond trade in Africa, drug trafficking, or supporting sanctioned Russian entities. The other three sanctioned Israelis appear in the SDN list under the ‘West Bank’ region.
If we exclude the eight Israelis sanctioned for matters unrelated to the Israeli-Arab conflict, we are left with 35 individuals, four of whom are the newly sanctioned Jewish residents. The remaining 31 individuals are indeed Arab terrorists associated with Hamas or other terror groups, but it is worth highlighting who these 31 are and why they are there.
To start, the 31 individually sanctioned Arab terrorists include three that are no longer alive and thus these are irrelevant. Senior Hamas commanders Ayman Nofal and Ahmed Al-Ghandour were both assassinated by Israel during the current war and Baha Abu al-Ata, a leader of the Islamic Jihad, was assassinated back in 2019. Thus, we are left with 28 living sanctioned individuals affiliated with Hamas or other terror groups.
Among these 28 are individuals involved in moving millions of dollars on behalf of Hamas and helping to fund the Oct. 7th attacks. These include five members of the Herzallah family and three members of the Shamlakh family that transferred funds through cryptocurrencies. Also among the 28 sanctioned individuals are Hamas’ key leaders- Yahya Sinwar, Muhammed Deif, Mahmoud al-Zahar and Marwan Issa. Most glaringly missing from the list would seem to be Muhammad Sinwar, the brother of Yahya Sinwar, and also among the leaders involved in planning the Oct. 7th attack.
More violence over parking spaces in Tel Aviv than in the US Press Release
In its justification for the new sanctions on the four Jewish residents, the US government does cite alleged incidents of violence though these are primarily cases of assault or battery and none of the sanctioned Jewish individuals are accused of killing or funding the killing of anyone.
Most shocking is the justification for sanctioning Shalom Zicherman, which alleges that he “assaulted Israeli activists” and has no mention of any attacks on Palestinians. An Israeli citizen allegedly assaulted other Israeli citizens and somehow that requires American sanctions?
By comparison, Israel has recently witnessed a wave of violent incidents of road rage. Israeli media reports are filled with cases of assaults related to road rage, and several have even led to deaths. Of course, none of the perpetrators has been subjected to US sanctions as a result of these incidents. Likewise, the dozens of weekly incidents of stone throwing, firebombs, and attacks by Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria have also not led to sanctions on any of the involved individuals. Somehow it is only when the Biden administration needs to find something to do against Israeli residents in Judea and Samaria that it investigates cases of battery and assault.
Preserve the integrity of US sanctions, remove the four Jewish residents from the SDN List
The US Department of Treasury states, “The power and integrity of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law.”
The integrity of the SDN list is no doubt harmed by Biden’s latest moves. Sanctioning individuals involved in cases of assault and battery just because of the administration’s desire to ‘appear’ evenhanded is inappropriate and contradicts any concept of proportionality. Clearly, this is the administration’s attempt to appease the progressive wing of the Democratic party.
Ultimately however, these moves harm the integrity of the US led financial system. I, and many others here in Israel and in the US, call on the administration to immediately remove the four Jewish residents from the SDN list in order to preserve the integrity of US sanctions and continue to uphold our global financial system.