NICOSIA Ñ Hamas has scorned the U.S. decision to freeze the bank
assets of six leaders of the Palestinian insurgency group.
Hamas said none of the six has bank accounts, particularly in the United
States or West. Last month, the Bush administration announced it would seek
to freeze assets of the Hamas leaders along with European and Lebanese
charities that allegedly finance the group.
Osama Hamdan, a Hamas representative
in Lebanon, said neither he nor any of the other Hamas members cited in
the U.S. decision has bank accounts. The others on the U.S. list include
Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, his heir, Abdul Aziz Rentisi, politburo chief
Khaled Masha'al, Mussa Abu Marzouk and Imad Alami, according to Middle East Newsline.
Hamdan told the Beirut-based Al Liwa'a daily that the
decision by President George Bush has no credibility. Hamdan said the charities targeted by the United States focus on
serving the Palestinians.
The Treasury Department named the European charities that aid Hamas as
France's Committee for Welfare and Relief in Palestine,
Switzerland's Palestine Relief Association, Britain's Palestine
Relief and Development Fund, Austria's Palestinian Association and Lebanon's
Sanabil Association for Relief and Development. Khalid Al Shuli is
president of the French and Swiss organizations.
Hamas leaders have responded angrily to the Bush administration
decision. They have urged European Union leaders to ignore the U.S. freeze
order. On Friday, EU foreign ministers will discuss a proposal to classify
all wings of Hamas as a terrorist entity.
[In Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinian insurgents surrounded the
Palestinian Legislative Council in a protest that demanded the resignation
of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian sources
said organizers of the demonstration were sent from the nearby headquarters
of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. At one point, some of the Fatah insurgents
broke down the door and windows of the PLC building when they tried to
For its part, the Palestinian Authority has reported the freezing of 39
bank accounts of nine Islamic charities supported by Saudi Arabia and other
Gulf Cooperation Council states. They include the Al Mujamma Al Islami,
founded 30 years ago by Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. The fund, which focuses
on helping the families of Palestinian prisoners, was registered by Israel
Another group whose assets were temporarily frozen was the As-Salah
Association, established in 1978 and which funds programs for schools in the
Gaza Strip. Al Jamiya Al Islamiya, or the Islamic Association, was founded
in 1976 and operates kindergartens, summer camps and sports clubs.
The Palestinian Monetary Authority has also reported freezing the assets
of the Palestinian Student Friends Association, established in 1998 and
which provides housing and tuition stipends. The PA also froze the bank
accounts of the Islamic Charity for Zakat, which funnels money to Muslim
families, and the Al Nour Charity Association, which helps the families of
Other groups whose assets were frozen were the Islamic Young Women's
Association, the Social Care Committee and Al Aqsa Charity Association.