The Kassam Brigades, the military arm of the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, have suspended their bitcoin donation program. That comes from one Telegram chat of the group classified as a terrorist organization. They are concerned about the safety of donors, the message said. However, there is no official confirmation from the Kassam Brigades.
It was one of the “most sophisticated crypto donation programs”, writes the US analysis company Chainalysis in one Contribution. Since 2019, the organization initially used multiple wallet infrastructures before introducing a system that automatically generated a new address for each funder. Hamas advertised the campaign intensively on its own website and on its social media channels. According to Chainalysis, “tens of thousands” of US dollars are said to have flowed to the Kassam Brigades via Bitcoin donations.
It is not surprising that the donation program has now been discontinued. Over the past few years, Israeli authorities have increasingly targeted Hamas’ digital revenue streams. In 2021, police seized 84 wallets, seizing a total of $7.7 million in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies. A year later, further measures followed, during which a total of 30 crypto wallets spread over twelve accounts were put on hold.
“Crypto Not Crime Friendly”
For Chainalysis marked ending Hamas’ bitcoin donation program a “huge victory against crypto-crime.” Thanks to blockchain technology, authorities can better understand illegal money movements and identify individuals, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. “The Kassam Brigades have had to learn the same lesson as many others attempting to use digital assets for illicit purposes: cryptocurrencies are not crime-friendly.”
Cryptocurrencies are not the main source of income for the Kassam Brigades anyway. The organization uses a sophisticated system of tunnels to smuggle people, money, weapons and other goods in and out of the region. Estimates of revenue vary between $200 million and $700 million per year.
Renewed violence in the Gaza Strip
Meanwhile, the violence in the Gaza Strip does not come to an end. Yesterday evening, the Israeli Air Force again carried out attacks on the West Bank area. According to one, several Hamas military facilities were targeted communication. The starting point was rocket attacks by militant Palestinians following the death of a prisoner. Media report injuries on both sides.