Israeli bank freezes accounts of farmer accused of ‘settler violence’ by US

The State Department has accused Levi of leading a group of Israeli citizens said to have "engaged in actions creating an atmosphere of fear"


(Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) Yinon Levi, a West Bank farmer whom the United States recently sanctioned for alleged attacks against Palestinians, has had his Israeli bank accounts frozen, the Kan News public broadcaster reported on Sunday.

The report says Bank Leumi—one of Israel's oldest and largest financial institutions—informed Levi by phone that both his private and business accounts would be closed, effective immediately.

On Thursday, the Biden administration issued an executive order sanctioning "persons undermining peace, security and stability in the West Bank," citing "high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction."

Adopting what it calls a "holistic approach" to the Middle East regional crisis, the White House named four Israelis whom it is sanctioning: Yinon Levi of Meitarim Farm; David Chai Chasdai of Givat Ronen; Einan Tanjil of Kiryat Ekron; and Shalom Zicherman of Mitzpe Yair.

The State Department accuses Levi of leading a group of Israeli citizens said to have "engaged in actions creating an atmosphere of fear" in the West Bank, including by carrying out attacks against Palestinian and Bedouin civilians in the village of Khirbet Zanuta and destroying their property.

Levi denies the accusations. "The executive order is a result of requests to Biden by the anarchist, anti-Zionist left, which hates the Jewish people and made up a bunch of stories about Israel's pioneers," he told Hebrew media on Sunday.

"Biden, who is unable to deal with the Houthis who murder American soldiers, doesn't scare us. We will continue to settle the Land of Israel without fear," added Levi.

Under Biden's executive order, U.S. individuals and companies are barred from providing any assets or services to Levi. Local reports suggested that Bank Leumi likely complied with the order out of fear of being cut off from the American financial system.

Israel's Walla news site reported that Bank Hapoalim is preparing to close the accounts of Tanjil and Zicherman "in the near future."

"Bank Hapoalim respects the international sanctions and will comply with any legal order. For reasons of banking confidentiality, we will not be able to respond to specific cases," a spokesperson told the outlet.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blasted the White House's measures as an "absurd order without justification" and vowed to "make sure that banks do not harm the citizens of Israel." The Jewish state is "not a banana republic of the United States," added the finance minister.

Following a visit to Levi's home on Sunday, Religious Zionist Party Knesset member Zvi Sukkot said he would also urge fellow lawmakers to hold an urgent discussion on the matter.

Meanwhile, Canada announced it would follow the United States in imposing sanctions on Israeli citizens accused of inciting violence in West Bank, alongside measures against Hamas terror leaders in Gaza.

"We're working actively on it," Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Sunday, speaking from Ukraine. "I'm making sure that while I'm in Ukraine, the work is being done in Ottawa and I look forward to doing an announcement soon."

According to Israeli Police figures made public in November, in the period from the current Hamas war’s start on October 7 through Nov. 7, there were 97 incidents of illegal activities attributed to Jews in West Bank, down from 184 offenses in the same period in 2022.

Between October 7 and January 15, the Hatzalah West Bank rescue group recorded more than 2,600 terrorist attacks against Israelis in the area, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.

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