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$2,500 Collected: Hamas Begged for Bitcoin Donations. The Islamist Group’s Followers Were Listening.

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM
W. E. Messamore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM

Hamas just received two donations to its bitcoin wallet on Coinbase according to  a report Sunday by Globes, Israel’s oldest Hebrew-language daily evening financial newspaper. The donations, totalling $2,500 USD worth of BTC originated from an unknown source in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis.

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamic fundamentalist organization which has acted as the de facto governing authority of the embattled Gaza Strip since assuming power in the area in 2007. It is widely regarded as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union. Consequently, the Globes report says the donations to Hamas are a breach of Coinbase’s terms of service.

Coinbase had not responded to CCN.com’s request for comment prior to publication.

A Financial and Humanitarian Crisis in The Gaza Strip

The Palestinian organization started soliciting bitcoin donations last month out of desperation in response crippling economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip by Israel and the United States. Although Hamas has received financial backing from Iran in the past, Iran is currently facing financial trouble of its own due to U.S. sanctions.

A representative for the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said:

“Support the resistance financially through the Bitcoin currency.”

Nearly 2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, and whatever opinion one may have of their government and the Israel-Palestine conflict, most of those nearly 2 million people are not considered terrorists, and the embargo against the Gaza Strip, enforced by the military blockade, is leaving  the people who live there destitute.

Two Bitcoin Donations to Hamas Totaling $2,500

The blockchain activity was noticed late last week by Israeli blockchain intelligence startup Whitestream. Its founders, Itsik Levy and Uri Bornstein, told Globes:

“In exposing illegal activity, you could say that blockchain itself does most of the work. All activity on the network is registered and documented, so it can be read at a later stage.”

Levy later said:

“We have been decoding blockchain transactions for a long time. According to our figures, only 2% of total bitcoin turnover involves the darknet or is related to terrorist or criminal activity.”

Two percent of transactions related to terrorist or criminal activity sounds high.

But it’s irresponsible for Levy and/or Globes to report a figure that conflates terrorist or criminal activity with “the darknet” without defining what is meant by “darknet” activity and without further breaking down how much of the two percent is “darknet” activity, and how much is terrorist or criminal activity.

Biased Headlines and Misleading Reporting

This kind of reporting falls in line with a sustained campaign of anti-bitcoin and anti-cryptocurrency propaganda by mainstream media reporting and punditry, meant to smear and discredit bitcoin by associating the open source, peer-to-peer, decentralized Internet currency with criminality in the public imagination.

So far this article is the only major news report on this story that includes the paltry sum of $2,500 in the headline. Readers without discernment may be prejudiced by reports with headlines like  “Bitcoin in the service of Hamas,” to believe that the decentralized payment network is being used to substantially bankroll the Palestinian organization.

bitcoin terrorism cryptocurrency
Bitcoin has often been portrayed as a currency prominently used for funding terrorism, despite studies and research that shows the contrary. Source: Shutterstock

It’s not unlike mainstream news headlines that blow out of all proportion the impact of the Russian government on the 2016 U.S. elections via social media.

Like this  CNN article that reports this story in alarmist tones as if it were a matter of great national import. Readers have to plow through 821 words before CNN discloses how much the Russian government spent on search and display ads to influence the election: $4,700. As if that could even put a dent in a U.S. presidential election.

More U.S. Dollars Have Supported Terrorism Than Their Equivalent in BTC

Foremost among many fears and worries related to Bitcoin is that its anonymous, decentralized nature, with no governing authority, makes it suitable to nefarious purposes. But who oversees the overseers?

The United States Dollar and the institutional banking system that administrates its use is the most tightly regulated, controlled, and watched currency in history.

Those who use the U.S. Dollar constantly find their purchasing power evaporating as the Federal Reserve siphons off their wealth to buy U.S. Treasury debts that paid for (to give one example) the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq since 2003 .

The U.S. government itself openly sends  hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to Saudi Arabia, while approving billion dollar arms deals with the Gulf Kingdom, even though it is  the most prolific state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Saudi Arabia has been waging a war in Yemen for years now, leading to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to  the UN.

Last August Saudi Arabia targeted a school bus  in a marketplace in Yemen, murdering dozens of children with a 500-pound, laser-guided MK 82 bomb manufactured by Lockheed Martin. American tax dollars paid for the USAF’s ongoing midair refueling missions and logistical support for Saudi atrocities in Yemen.

At least people who bank with the Bitcoin network can choose not to send money to Hamas if they’d rather not support terrorism.

Featured Image from Shutterstock