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US imposes sanctions on two groups for fundraising for Israeli extremists in West Bank

By Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Alex Marquardt, CNN

(CNN) — The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on two organizations for fundraising on behalf of two violent Israeli extremists in the West Bank.

The two groups – Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich – established crowdfunding campaigns to raise thousands of dollars for Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai, respectively. Both of those men were sanctioned by the US in February under a new executive order targeting those perpetrating violence in the West Bank.

At the same time, the State Department on Friday sanctioned Ben-Zion Gopstein, “the founder and leader of Lehava, an organization whose members have engaged in violence, including assaults on Palestinian civilians,” the Treasury Department said in a statement Friday.

The executive order, issued by President Joe Biden in early February, came amid increased violence in the occupied West Bank in the wake of the October 7 terrorist attack. That violence has only continued in subsequent months. The order angered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who complained to the administration, calling it “inappropriate” and “highly problematic,” according to Axios.

The Mount Hebron Fund was set up to bypass sanctions and crowdfund for the family of Levi, a young settler the State Department accuses of repeatedly leading marauding groups of West Bank settlers who assault Palestinians, burn their fields and destroy their property.

Screengrabs of the of the crowdfunding page, which has been taken down, show a fundraising goal of over $130,000 – half a million shekels – for Levi and his family. The site declared an intention of bypassing US sanctions on Levi and, according to the Associated Press, donations poured in from 3,000 donors around the world and more than $140,000 was raised before the page was shut down.

Shlom Asir set up a crowdfunding effort that raised approximately $31,000 for Chasdai, who “initiated and led a riot, which involved setting vehicles and buildings on fire, assaulting Palestinian civilians, and causing damage to property in Huwara, which resulted in the death of a Palestinian civilian,” according to the US Treasury. That fundraiser was also established after the US imposed sanctions on Chasdai.

In addition, Shlom Asiraich “has also raised funds for other imprisoned violent extremists who share the group’s ideology, including Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and Amiram Ben Uliel, who was convicted in 2020 for the killing of a Palestinian couple and their baby in an arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma in 2015.”

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