Gaza Strip’s governing body, Hamas, has turned to bitcoin as a way to fund its operation. These efforts are likely a result of increased tensions which recently halted millions in aid.
According to a recent CoinTelegraph report, Abu Obeida, a Hamas representative, sent out a request for funding via bitcoin on his Telegram channel.
The United States, among other countries, recognizes Hamas as a terrorist group. Although certain countries such as Russia and China do not label Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Obeida mentioned bitcoin specifically as a means to raise funds. He addressed his message to “all lovers of the resistance” as well as those who support their cause.
According to CoinTelegraph reporting, Obeida also noted,
“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means, but the resistance lovers in all the world are fighting these Zionist attempts and are seeking to find all possible support for the resistance.”
Israel and Egypt have blocked most access to the area, regarding both entry and exit. According to recent news from RT, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked millions in Qatari aid destined for the Gaza Strip in response to renewed border hostilities, risking increased tensions with Hamas during Israel’s election campaign.”
As a result, the group may be turning to bitcoin as a means of funding as bitcoin can be a borderless value transfer method.
However, CoinTelegraph reports that a hearing a congress provides contrary evidence to the function of cryptocurrencies as a terrorist funding tool:
“A congressional hearing earlier that month had nonetheless concluded that while al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other such terrorist groups have all attempted to raise funds through crypto, their success has been limited — and that in many instances, fiat currencies provide more robust anonymity for illicit fundraising.”
Borderless but not necessarily anonymous
Possibly pertinent to the situation, however, is the fact that bitcoin is not as private as people might publicly believe, as noted in an MIT Technology Review from 2017. Bitcoin transactions are recorded on a public ledger. The MIT Technology Review related bitcoin’s privacy to that of an author under a pen name.
“You can preserve your privacy as long as the pseudonym is not linked to you. But as soon as somebody makes the link to one of your anonymous books, the ruse is revealed. Your entire writing history under your pseudonym becomes public. Similarly, as soon as your personal details are linked to your Bitcoin address, your purchase history is revealed too.”
Privacy coins which focus on anonymity, such as Monero and DASH, look to bring added anonymity to the crypto space. Although most current “privacy coin” options are the subject of many debates regarding whether or not they actually improve anonymity. Coinkite CEO Rodolfo Novak expressed a few of these concerns in a video last year.