Where Does HAMAS Get its Money for the War?

Israel cannot entirely wipe out Hamas and consequently the organisation itself.

28/11/2023 - 14:29
Source: Times of Israel
Source: Times of Israel

According to The Economist, Israel won't be able to completely destroy Hamas, as reported by Sarbaz.kz citing Reuters.

Only a small fraction of its financial base resides in the Gaza Strip. The bulk of its funds are kept abroad. This financial empire—comprising money laundering firms, mining companies, and others—reportedly generates over $1 billion annually. It is meticulously structured to evade Western sanctions and may be out of reach for Israel and its allies. HAMAS' Gaza revenues cover everything from school teachers' salaries to rockets.

Approximately $360 million annually comes from tariffs on goods imported into Gaza from the West Bank and Egypt. This is the most straightforward income source that Israel could more easily choke off.

However, a significantly larger sum comes from overseas. According to Israeli estimates, it amounts to around $750 million per year and serves as the primary source for replenishing Hamas' current weapon and fuel stocks. Part of these funds is sent by friendly governments, primarily Iranian ($100 million annually according to the US, mainly in military aid).

The task for HAMAS financiers is to move this money without falling under American sanctions. Millions of dollars flow into HAMAS through cryptocurrency markets.

The US Treasury Department stated that HAMAS smuggled over $20 million through the Turkish currency exchange company, Redin Exchange. The world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, allowed its users to transact with HAMAS.

However, Israel believes that the lion's share of HAMAS money, around $500 million annually, comes from investments. Some are represented by firms registered in Middle Eastern countries. They are managed by HAMAS' investment office. These firms make donations to charitable organizations, which, in turn, channel funds to Hamas. Untangling income streams is challenging for Western agencies.

One such firm built the Afra Mall—the first shopping centre in Sudan; another owns mines near Khartoum, while a third erected skyscrapers in Sharjah (UAE). These companies boast their business successes but deny any connection to HAMAS.

Turkey's banking system aids HAMAS in evading US sanctions by conducting complex transactions worldwide. The rapidly growing and loosely regulated cryptocurrency market makes it even easier. Israel and the US accused Turkish banks of deliberately holding HAMAS funds.

In 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (G7's monitoring body) included Turkey on the "grey list" of countries doing too little to freeze terrorists' assets. The tacit approval of Turkish authorities "opens doors and eases business". Trend GYO—a company registered in Istanbul—subject to US sanctions for transferring Hamas funds—won a contract to build the Istanbul Commercial University. Construction companies, holding a significant position in HAMAS' portfolio, can easily absorb vast sums and often secure substantial loans.

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