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Britain’s New Sanctions Target IRGC Senior Officers Over Hamas Ties

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Britain slapped new sanctions on seven Iranian and Palestinian officials, and one entity over their links to Hamas and other militant groups on Thursday.

The new designations mostly include senior commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard extraterritorial Quds (Qods) force (IRGC-QF).

According to a statement released on the British government’s official website, the sanctions target Esmail Qaani, the head of IRGC-QF, Mohammed Saeed Izadi, the head of IRGC-QF Palestine branch, three other IRGC commanders, and two Hamas and Islamic Jihad envoys to Iran. 

IRGC-QF Palestine branch is the only entity mentioned in the list of new bans announced by the British government.

The sanctions will enforce UK travel bans and asset freezes for the targeted individuals and entity over their “hostile” activities, especially those aimed at threatening or destabilizing Israel. 

The British government called IRGC Qods force a “notorious” entity which “leads Iran’s operations outside the country and provides support to regional partners and proxy groups.”

Several of the Iranian individuals added to UK sanctions list in December 2023

Though the Islamic Republic has avoided any direct military involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict, the regime has used its allies such as Houthis and proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack Israeli and American targets in the region.

The new sanctions will convey the message to the Islamic Republic that it will be held accountable for its “appalling behavior,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron stressed. A new Iranian sanction regime that gives the UK “extensive new powers” to disrupt Iran’s “hostile activities in the UK and around the world” also took effect Thursday.

“Sanctions will target Iran’s decision makers and those doing its bidding, with the regime also including new restrictions on Iran’s drone programme and shipping,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

“The behaviour of the Iranian regime poses an unacceptable threat to the UK and our partners,” Cameron said, underlining “unprecedented threats” from Tehran to peace in the Middle East and to plots to kill individuals in Britain.

“It continues to threaten people on UK soil and uses its influence to destabilise the Middle East through its support to armed groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ),” added Cameron.

Moreover, a number of British sanctions against Tehran which were announced in July came into force on Thursday.

The bans were imposed in response to the “unprecedented threats” from the Islamic Republic, including “plots to kill individuals on UK soil.”

In October, MI5, the UK’s security service, warned that amid the war between Iran-backed Hamas and Israel, Tehran may be exploring new ways to threaten the security of Britain.

Despite a host of old and new sanctions against IRGC commanders, Britain has refused to designate IRGC as a terrorist organization.

In November, 70 lawmakers urged PM Rishi Sunak to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. While individuals and entities related to the IRGC have been issued with sanctions from Britain, Canada, the US and European Union member states, lawmakers said the bans do not go far enough.

According to the Foreign Office, the UK has more than 350 sanctions designations in place on Iranians and entities.