Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Washington Sanctions 6 Entities, 3 Individuals Involved in Arming Houthis

This handout picture courtesy of the US Naval Forces Central Command released on June 15, 2024 shows sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group rendering assistance to distressed mariners at sea in the Red Sea, on June 15, 2024. (Photo by US NAVY / AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the US Naval Forces Central Command released on June 15, 2024 shows sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group rendering assistance to distressed mariners at sea in the Red Sea, on June 15, 2024. (Photo by US NAVY / AFP)
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Washington Sanctions 6 Entities, 3 Individuals Involved in Arming Houthis

This handout picture courtesy of the US Naval Forces Central Command released on June 15, 2024 shows sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group rendering assistance to distressed mariners at sea in the Red Sea, on June 15, 2024. (Photo by US NAVY / AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the US Naval Forces Central Command released on June 15, 2024 shows sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group rendering assistance to distressed mariners at sea in the Red Sea, on June 15, 2024. (Photo by US NAVY / AFP)

The US has imposed new sanctions on three individuals and six entities that have facilitated weapons procurement for Yemen’s Houthis.

The sanctions targeted a ship involved in arms smuggling for the Iran-backed group, and companies based in China, the Sultanate of Oman, and the UAE.

“We have sanctioned three individuals and six entities that facilitated the purchase of weapons for the Houthis. Additionally, we have designated one ship owned by one of the sanctioned entities as prohibited property,” said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Miller emphasized Washington’s commitment to using “the tools available to obstruct the flow of military materials to Yemen.”

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement that the sanctions involved an individual based in China.

“Ali Abd-al-Wahhab Muhammad al-Wazir is a China-based Houthi-affiliated individual who plays a key role in procuring materials that enable Houthi forces to manufacture advanced conventional weapons inside Yemen,” it said.

The statement also noted that al-Wazir uses his China-based company, Guangzhou Tasneem Trading Company Limited (Guangzhou Tasneem), to obtain these items and ship them to Yemen.

Guangzhou Tasneem is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Tasneem Trading Company Limited.

The US Treasury imposed sanctions on another individual, Muaadh Ahmed Mohammed al-Haifi, who runs the Oman-based International Smart Digital Interface Limited Liability Company (ISDI) that has purchased and facilitated the transfer of cruise missile components, manufacturing equipment, and other dual-use materials into Yemen.

According to the Treasury, al-Haifi’s activities had played a key role in the 2020 Houthi attacks on a Saudi Aramco facility in the region using a Quds-type land attack cruise missile that contained components that ISDI had sourced from a PRC-based supplier.

Also, the Treasury imposed sanctions on the Cameroon-flagged OTARIA, which is managed by UAE-based Stellar Wave Marine L.L.C and captained by Vyacheslav Salyga. It said the ship loaded commodities associated with Houthi financier Said al-Jamal in late May 2024 to be discharged in Singapore.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said the sanctions aim to stop the “Houthis’ continued, indiscriminate, and reckless attacks against unarmed commercial vessels and which are made possible by their access to key components necessary for the production of their missiles and UAVs.”



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Deif’s Assassination Attempt in Gaza Took Weeks of Close Surveillance

Palestinians search for bodies and survivors in a site hit by an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors in a site hit by an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
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Deif’s Assassination Attempt in Gaza Took Weeks of Close Surveillance

Palestinians search for bodies and survivors in a site hit by an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors in a site hit by an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

For weeks, Israel kept watch on a palm-tree-dotted villa in southern Gaza where it believed a top Hamas lieutenant was staying with his family, but it held off on a strike, according to three senior Israeli defense officials.

The Israelis had a bigger target in mind: Muhammad Deif, the elusive leader of Hamas’s military wing, according to a report published by The New York Times on Monday.

The officials said that on Saturday, after learning that Deif appeared to be at the villa, the Israeli government sent in fighter jets that devastated the compound and killed dozens of Palestinians in the area around it.

The Israeli army and the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, said on Sunday that the strike had killed the lieutenant, Rafa Salameh.

But the fate of Deif, who is second in command of Hamas and considered an architect of its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, remained unclear.

The Israeli government also defended the decision to order the strike — which the officials said used at least five US-made precision-guided bombs — in an area Israel itself has designated a humanitarian zone for Palestinians driven from their homes by the war between Israel and Hamas.

The strike was authorized after prolonged observation of the villa, one of Salameh’s secret command posts, according to the three senior Israeli officials.

The villa is in an area known as Al-Mawasi, west of Khan Younis near the Mediterranean Sea.

It belonged to Salameh’s family, two of the officials said, and Salameh began spending more time there in recent months after Israeli forces overran many of his other strongholds in Khan Younis, both above and below ground, according to two of the officials.

Salameh still spent much of his time in Hamas’s underground tunnel network, but he also stayed regularly at the villa, along with his family and other militants, to escape the stifling conditions in the tunnels, the officials said.

Officers from an Israeli unit that oversees the identification of high-value targets, staffed by operatives from military intelligence and the Shin Bet, detected Salameh’s presence several weeks ago, the officials said.

But, they added, Israeli leaders decided to delay any attempts to kill him to see if he would be joined at some point by Deif.

Earlier assassination attempts against Deif are believed to have left him disabled, and he may be missing an eye and limbs. The Israeli military believes that he has developed health problems that force him to spend more time than other Hamas leaders do above ground, outside the tunnel network, the officials said.

On Friday, Israeli intelligence officers received information suggesting that Deif had appeared at the villa, the officials said. The news was sent up the chain of command to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who signed off on the strike, he said.

When the military received further indications of Deif’s presence after 10 a.m. on Saturday, it sent in the jets. It also launched an additional airstrike near emergency responders, videos and photographs reviewed by The New York Times show.

At least 90 people were killed, about half of them women and children, and 300 were wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Reports from the Gaza Strip described hospitals overwhelmed by injured Palestinians.

A Hamas official suggested on Sunday that Deif remained very much alive.

Netanyahu himself, in a televised news conference on Saturday night, said there was still no “absolute certainty” that Deif had been killed.