US sanctions fundraisers for extremist West Bank settlers who commit violence against Palestinians

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday imposed sanctions on two entities accused of fundraising for extremist Israel settlers already sanctioned, as well as the founder of an organization whose members regularly assault Palestinians.

The Treasury Department announcement comes as the West Bank has seen some of its worst violence perpetrated by extremist settlers against Palestinians since the war in nearby Gaza began.

There is also friction between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose far-right government has reacted angrily to previous sanctions imposed against West Bank settlers.

Included in the Friday sanctions are two entities — Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich — accused of raising funds for sanctioned settlers Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai.

Both men were previously sanctioned by the Biden administration for violently attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.

The penalties aim to block them from using the U.S. financial system and bar American citizens from dealing with them.

The fundraising campaign established by Mount Hebron Fund for Levi and by Shlom Asiraich for Chasdai generated the equivalent of $140,000 and $31,000, respectively, according to U.S. Treasury.

In Levi’s case, the fund now sanctioned by the Biden administration is linked to the regional council in the area, a body that receives state money. The Biden order Friday stopped short of sanctioning the council itself.

Rights groups say that the expansion of illegal settler outposts in the West Bank is enthusiastically supported by the regional councils and nudged along by Israel’s current national government — the most far-right in the country’s history.

The Biden order also skirted sanctioning crowdfunding websites where funds were raised, GiveChak and New York-based Charidy.

In Chasdai’s case, the fundraiser on Charidy was organized by Shlom Asiraich, which raises money for imprisoned Jewish extremists.

Both online fundraisers have now been taken down. But at least one fundraiser linked to a settler previously sanctioned by the Biden administration, Moshe Sharvit, remains online. As of Friday, the page on GiveChak had raised the equivalent of over $879,000.

Additionally, the State Department is designating Ben-Zion Gopstein, the founder and leader of Lehava, an organization whose members have assaulted Palestinian civilians.

Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the organizations “undermine the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank. We will continue to use our tools to hold those responsible accountable.”

In February, Biden issued an executive order that targets Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been accused of attacking Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in the occupied territory.

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