ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Hamas suspends Bitcoin fundraising, citing ‘hostile’ activity against donors

Military wing of Gaza-ruling terror group has for years appealed for cryptocurrency donations, despite crackdown by Israeli and American authorities

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: A coin bearing the Bitcoin logo, above several New Israeli Shekel banknotes. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Illustrative: A coin bearing the Bitcoin logo, above several New Israeli Shekel banknotes. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The military wing of the Hamas terror group on Thursday announced it would stop raising funds using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, citing intensifying “hostile” activity against donors.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades has for several years appealed for donations from supporters via Bitcoin to help counter its financial woes.

Cryptocurrency ostensibly provides a high level of anonymity, making them particularly attractive for financing criminal activity or terrorism. Bitcoin has faced criticism over underground websites where people have used the currency to buy drugs and guns.

Israel and the United States have cracked down on Hamas’s cryptocurrency financing efforts, seizing dozens of digital wallets used by the group that rules the Gaza Strip since it launched the initiative in 2019.

In a statement Thursday, the al-Qassam Brigades said it was ending Bitcoin donations “out of concern about the safety of donors and to spare them any harm,” adding that it had seen an “intensification of hostile efforts against anyone who tries to support the resistance through this currency.”

The terror group has faced financial woes in recent years as banks have sought to ensure they have no dealings with the organization.

Illustrative: Masked Hamas members carry a model of a rocket during a rally in the central Gaza Strip on December 12, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union and others.

Hamas officials say its military wing receives significant support from Iran, although the routes through which these funds are transferred are opaque. Last week, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Iran provides Hamas with some $100 million annually.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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