Months after the initial plea for bitcoin donations, Hamas’ military wing Al-Qassam Brigades has once again sent an appeal to supporters urging them to provide financial aid via the cryptocurrency, per Arutz Sheva.
According to the Al-Qassam Brigades, this is part of the group’s already existing ‘Support the Resistance’ campaign. The fundamentalist organization has been dubbed a terrorist organization by the European Union, Israel and the United States.
The appeal for bitcoin donations comes at a time when Hamas is facing financial woes. Partly this is because the traditional channels through which it has received funding in the past have been blocked. In its previous plea broadcast via Telegram for financial donations, Hamas blamed Israel for this:
Israel is fighting the resistance by trying to cut off its support, but supporters of the resistance all over the world are fighting the Zionist attempts and are working to find alternative methods to support it. We call upon all supporters of the resistance and of our just cause to support it through Bitcoin, through means that we will announce soon.
Sources of Funds Drying up for Hamas?
The appeal is coming at a time when Hamas is bracing for even more cuts to its funding. Recently one of its biggest benefactors, Qatar, announced a new tougher approach. According to The Jerusalem Post, the wealthy Gulf State will, starting April, cut all funding to the fundamentalist organization. Instead, Qatar will direct those funds to humanitarian projects.
Between 2012 and 2018 it is estimated that Hamas received approximately $1.1 billion from Qatar.
Another benefactor for the Palestinian fundamentalist organization has been Iran. But according to Palestinian lecturer and journalist Hussam Al-Dajany, the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States have severely restricted the amount of money that Hamas can get from its other leading patron.
How Successful was Hamas’ Previous Appeal for Bitcoin Donations?
As of early February Hamas’ appeal for bitcoin donations had collected $2,500 as previously reported by CCN.com. At the time U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase found itself dragged into the matter. This was after Israeli-based blockchain analytics firm Whitestream claimed that Hamas’ transactions had been signed by addresses which had been operating on the company wallets of Coinbase.
According to the founder and CEO of Whitestream, Itsik Levy, the conclusion was drawn ‘based on shared inputs’. At the time Levy warned that Hamas campaign ‘just started’.
Coinbase Threatened with Lawsuit over Bitcoin Donations
Whitestream’s revelation resulted in Coinbase being threatened with a lawsuit by an Israeli NGO, the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center.
It has recently come to our attention that the notorious Palestinian terrorist group Hamas currently maintains an account with Coinbase, Inc. (“Coinbase”), through which it is accepting donations. Therefore [we are] writing to notify Coinbase that knowingly providing material support or resources to Hamas is a violation of US federal criminal law, and to demand that Coinbase immediately terminate any and all accounts and services provided to Hamas.