Bitcoin donations have been sent to Hamas from a number of prominent crypto exchanges according to Whitestream, a Blockchain Intelligence firm from Israel.
They say the military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, posted two bitcoin addresses on their official website this Thursday.
The first address received funds from a Coinbase wallet, Whitestream says, while the second address appears to be unrelated to Coinbase with Hamas seemingly planning to change their bitcoin address very often.
Within two days of the addresses being published, about $2,500 worth of bitcoin was sent according to Whitestream. Blockchain data shows about 0.75 btc was sent to the two addresses.
Whitestream told Trustnodes they could not share all of their analysis regarding how they reached the conclusion these were bitcoin addresses from Coinbase or Binance, but “everything is proven because it is on the Blockchain, and we are a Blockchain analysis company.”
Additional bitcoin funds have been sent to Hamas from Bittrex and a Russian exchange called Vilkov as well as from the coinMixer.io mixing service which tries to obfuscate transactions.
USA, the European Union and Israel have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, so citizens of those countries might be open to prosecution if they send bitcoin funds, although the sums are minuscule so far.
Russia, China, and Turkey do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization, so citizens from those countries might be free to send bitcoin if they were so inclined.
This move from Hamas appears to come after they refused to accept a third trench of $15 million in donations by Qatar.
“Israel has allowed a $15 million monthly transfer from Qatar to the Gaza Strip in the framework of new understandings reached by Israel, Egypt, and Hamas,” Globes says.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Hamas “complained that Israel was trying to impose new conditions as to how the Qatari funds should be distributed. Instead of handing $15m to Hamas in January, Qatar distributed $10m to 94,000 poor Gaza families.”
Tensions appear to have escalated in the region after year long protests next to Israel’s borders, with Palestinians in Gaza demanding the lifting of an Israeli imposed blockade back in 2007.
According to Al Jazeera, Ismail Haniya, Hamas’ political chief (pictured above), has headed to Cairo for discussions on a potential agreement to permanently open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
In other developments, “Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday arrested Ibrahim Abu Salem, a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament – the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).”
While Israel has warned Hamas of retaliatory action should “their weekly violent riots along the Gaza border fence” continue with some media stating Israel was warning of war.
Egypt and the UN is now apparently mediating a potential deescalation, with Hamas seemingly turning to bitcoin to bypass what they claim are financial restrictions imposed by Israel.
The public nature of the blockchain, however, may make it difficult for them as blockchain analysis might allow for the tracking of funds. Leading to only small amounts being raised so far, but whether that will continue to be the case, remains to be seen.