Armed groups, presumably tied to Hamas, stole $70 million from Gaza bank last month – French report

File: Palestinian pass by a cash machine of the Bank of Palestine branch in Gaza City, Dec. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
File: Palestinian pass by a cash machine of the Bank of Palestine branch in Gaza City, Dec. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Armed groups in Gaza, including one with presumed Hamas links, last month robbed the Bank of Palestine of some $70 million (NIS 260 million), French daily Le Monde reports.

The funds were taken from the vaults of several branches of the bank, the report says, citing a Bank of Palestine document sent to “certain international partners” detailing the robberies.

On April 16, staff discovered a hole in the ceiling of the safe deposit room at one of the bank’s Gaza branches and found that some $3 million worth of shekels destined for cash dispensers were missing, Le Monde reports.

The next day, armed groups equipped with explosives returned to the site, blew up a cement protection chamber, and took more than $30 million in various currencies from three safes.

Two days later, the biggest branch in the Strip was attacked by commandos who said they answered to “Gaza’s highest authorities,” which the paper says is understood to mean Hamas. They took more than $36 million worth of shekels.

The Bank of Palestine, founded in 1960, is Gaza’s leading financial institution.

The Palestinian Monetary Authority, an independent body that oversees the financial system in Palestinian territories, responds when contacted by AFP that it is planning to issue a statement about the issue later today.

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