Iran denies $6 billion fund block amid Israel-Hamas war

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Iran on Thursday denied a news report suggesting that the US and Qatar have reached an agreement to restrict Tehran’s access to a $6 billion humanitarian assistance fund in the wake of the surprise attack on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The funds in question had been transferred to a bank in Qatar as part of a recent US-Iran prisoner swap deal. The deal resulted in the release of five US detainees by Iran.

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The Washington Post reported Thursday that a decision had been made to limit Iran’s access to these funds, while President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure due to concerns about Iran’s support for Hamas.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations rejected the Post’s report, Iranian state media reported. Nour News, an Iranian website associated with the country’s top security body, said that “there has been no change in the issue of Iran’s access to its funds in Qatari banks, and the agreement remains intact."

A senior Congressional aide told Al Arabiya English there is a bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to freeze Iran’s $6 billion but added the funds had not officially been frozen yet.

Iran, a key source of financial and military support for Hamas, has come under intense scrutiny since Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people in Israel and took about 150 hostages on Saturday. In response, Israel conducted extensive air and artillery strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza over the course of six days, resulting in over 1,400 casualties.

Tehran has praised the Hamas attack but denies any involvement in its planning or execution.

Israel has long accused the Islamic Republic of exacerbating violence by supplying arms to Hamas. Tehran refuses to recognize Israel and has made support for the Palestinian cause a fundamental component of its foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

For years, Iran and Israel have engaged in a covert conflict, with Iran accusing Israel of orchestrating sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program.

The US has said that Iran was complicit in Hamas’ assault on Israel, but added it had no intelligence or evidence supporting this assertion.

Al Arabiya English’s Joseph Haboush contributed to this report.

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