Hamas plans to proceed utilizing cryptocurrencies for operations

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order to grab 2.6 million shekels ($830,000) in cryptocurrency on Dec. 31 from a money-exchange firm Hamas runs within the Gaza Strip, referred to as Mutahidoon.

According to Israel Hayom, Israeli Defense Ministry mentioned the seizure was one of many largest in recent times and dealt a major blow to the forex alternate.

The newspaper added that the financing community “was exposed in a joint operation involving IDF Intelligence, the National Headquarters on Terrorist Economic Counter-Terrorism at the Defense Ministry, the cybercrimes department of the Israel Police’s Lahav 443 Major Crimes Unit, and the State Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Unit.”

This is the second time that Israel has seized cryptocurrency belonging to Hamas. In July, it seized 150 accounts affiliated with Mutahidoon in Gaza.

On Aug 10, 2020, the US Department of Justice introduced the seizure of $2.three million from crypto accounts of three teams it labelled as terrorist, together with the armed wing of Hamas.

Yet Hamas disputes the a number of the claims.

A Hamas official, who spoke on situation of anonymity, informed Al-Monitor, “We are not denying that donations from all over the world are deposited in these accounts, but some accounts are for people who have nothing to do with Hamas whatsoever.”

He described the seizure as a brand new Israeli piracy operation, claiming that it will not considerably have an effect on the motion’s assist from all around the world, which has considerably elevated, particularly after the current warfare on the Gaza Strip final May.

The Hamas official refused to say how a lot Hamas and its navy wing acquired in cryptocurrencies, however mentioned that the sum shouldn’t be as giant as Israel claims.

Mutahidoon alternate firm officers refused to remark to Al-Monitor on the Israeli accusation that the corporate is managing the confiscated accounts. 

Three years in the past, Hamas resorted to digital forex in a bid to beat the monetary blockade imposed by Israel, with the cooperation of most international locations on the earth. On Jan. 31, 2019, Abu Obeida, the navy spokesperson for Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, introduced that Hamas began receiving donations in Bitcoin, and revealed the hyperlink to the pockets. This prompted Binance to shut the Hamas-linked pockets on a number of events.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a Hamas official on June 2, 2021 as saying that Hamas’ Bitcoin donations elevated because the navy confrontation between Israel and the armed Palestinian factions in May. The official emphasised that “some of the funds are being used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians.”

In August 2019, the US Treasury said, “Overall, in the past four years, the IRGC-QF transferred over U.S. $200 million to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.” The Treasury imposed sanctions on three Hamas and Hezbollah figures it accused of being accountable for Hamas monetary transfers. 

Meanwhile, Israel has caught a number of networks for cash switch to Hamas by banks, which prompted the motion to show to digital currencies.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Muath Asmar, professor of economic markets at An-Najah National University, mentioned Israel couldn’t thwart all makes an attempt by Hamas and different Palestinian factions to make use of digital platforms and lift funds.

The currencies are too extremely encrypted, he mentioned, and the factions can create 1000’s of digital accounts to gather and handle funds beneath completely different names and addresses, which makes it troublesome for Israel to manage all of them.

He famous that Israel and even digital buying and selling firms can determine Hamas’ cash transfers solely when the cash reaches its remaining vacation spot. Hamas buys items and commodities with these digital currencies, sells them in some worldwide and Arab markets, and receives their value in money.

Mustafa Radwan, editor-in-chief of the financial web site al-Bousala, informed Al-Monitor that Hamas will accumulate giant sums of cash by digital platforms, however nobody aside from Hamas is aware of how a lot.

Radwan mentioned that many donors and supporters of Hamas and the Palestinian factions ship cash by these digital platforms as a result of they’re safer and it’s troublesome to trace the donor, particularly if the donation is thru Hamas-linked wallets.

This move to cryptocurrency comes because the group faces a monetary battle. Since 2014, it has been compelled to pay half a wage or a little bit extra to its staff within the authorities and its personal establishments.

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