WASHINGTON The United States on Thursday imposed financial penalties on two Lebanese charities that fundraise for Hamas, an effort by the Obama administration to disrupt the Islamist group's activities.
The U.S. Treasury added the two Beruit-based charities, Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds International Foundation, to its list of entities hit with asset freezes.
It is not known whether the two charities hold U.S. assets. The Treasury Department did not provide details on any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and declined to comment when asked.
The Treasury Department said Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds "exist to support the families of Hamas fighters" as well as financing projects in the Palestinian territories "intended to spread Hamas' influence and control."
Four years ago, the U.S. Treasury imposed economic sanctions on the Union of Good, of which Al-Waqfiya is a central component, the department said on Thursday.
The Union of Good was accused of fundraising for Hamas-based groups in the West Bank and Gaza, of which some of those funds were used to compensate families of suicide bombers.
Hamas has run Gaza unopposed since it seized control in 2007, suppressing rivals and launching sporadic attacks against Israel, which maintains a partial blockade of the coastal strip to prevent the entry of arms.
Hamas refuses to accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel and is considered a terrorism group by the West.
(Reporting By Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Doina Chiacu)