An Israeli civil rights NGO has threated to take Coinbase to court over a Hamas cryptocurrency account.
The official Telegram channel of Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, made the appeal for Bitcoin asking all the “supporters of our righteous cause to support the resistance financially using Bitcoin”.
Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center is suggesting that Hamas has set up a Coinbase account for this purpose and as such, donations to Hamas would be a violation of US federal law under the 1995 Counter-Terrorism Act. They stated in a letter to the US exchange giant:
“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.”
It added that Coinbase should immediately terminate all Hamas accounts.
Bitcoin users would be quick to point out that Hamas would be free to use its own open source Bitcoin client as a wallet, should its Coinbase account be closed. As a decentralized and censorship-resistant currency, efforts to block or sanction it would be quite futile, as proven by the much-mocked attempts by the US government last November to sanction Bitcoin addresses.
The territories of Gaza and the West Bank are separated from each other by Israeli territory. Both fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority but Gaza has since June 2007 been governed by Hamas since 2006.
There are reportedly now 20 unaccredited exchanges helping local cryptocurrency users to get their money abroad to make investments that otherwise they would have no chance of making in the region. In Gaza, a provider of Bitcoin to Palestinians recently maintained that his clients view Bitcoin as “cheaper, safer, and quicker”, maintaining that “nothing works with Palestinian banks” and that “Bitcoin wallets are alternative banks”.
Late last year the US online payment service PayPal closed the account of the Germany-based NGO International Alliance – an organization that sympathizes with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization and supports boycotting Israel, with PayPal simply stating that “This recipient is currently unable to receive money”.
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