Hamas' coffers filled up with Bitcoin during Israeli bombing campaign

Hamas' coffers filled up with Bitcoin during Israeli bombing campaign
A high-level Hamas insider noted that Hamas' military branch began receiving increased numbers of online visitors amid the Israeli bombing campaign and rocket fire from Gaza in May.
3 min read
07 June, 2021
More Bitcoin started coming in amid May's escalation in Gaza [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty]

Bitcoin has found its way into Hamas' coffers in increased quantities from the beginning of May's escalation in the Gaza Strip.

This is helping the organisation bypass global restrictions and acquire money for its armed efforts, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

A high-level Hamas insider told the US paper Hamas' military branch began receiving increased numbers of online visitors amid the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza and Hamas rocket fire on Israel.

He also explained that more Bitcoin started coming in.

"There was definitely a spike.

"Some of the money gets used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians."

However, the source refused to reveal the amount that has been given.

Over $1 million worth of crypto linked with Hamas' military branch was confiscated by US federal agencies in 2020.

According to expert Ari Redbord, formerly of the Treasury and an ex-US prosecutor: "Terrorist organizations have traditionally used those sorts of rallying cries to drive engagement to their site, which drives fundraising".

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During the Israeli bombing campaign, user statistics for alqassam.ps, the main site of Hamas' military branch, known as the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, rose significantly, the Counter Extremism project said.

It jumped from being the 831,992th most popular website to being among the 100,000 best performing on the Alexa analysis service.

Of those accessing the site, around 20% are located in Saudi Arabia, per the web tool.

Alqassam.ps, available in English as well as Arabic and Hebrew, contains a video encouraging Bitcoin contributions and providing information on how to maintain anonymity and avoid the law.

This means using technological and other solutions to hide where you are.

Since restrictions from Washington have disrupted traditional money-making efforts, including through underground charitable organisations in Europe, digital currencies are useful to Hamas.

It bypasses the banks and provides a high level of anonymity, The Wall Street Journal noted.

The same Hamas figure told the paper: "Our fundraising strategies keep on evolving as more restrictions are being placed on us".

However, despite Hamas receiving the money as Bitcoin, there is evidence they are able to transform it back into hard cash.

It was previously discovered by US authorities that with the organisation turned the digital currency into American dollars using Turkish go-betweens.

During the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza, 248 people lost their lives, including 66 children.

In Israel, 12 died, including two minors.