update deskIsrael at War

Hamas-linked commandos steal $70m from Gaza banks

The Palestinian Authority's Monetary Authority confirmed in a statement that "unknown entities" looted Gaza financial institutions.

Palestinians line up at an ATM outside a Bank of Palestine branch in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Dec. 8, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinians line up at an ATM outside a Bank of Palestine branch in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Dec. 8, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Armed groups in the Gaza Strip, including one said to have links to the Hamas terrorist organization, last month robbed the Bank of Palestine of some $70 million, the French daily Le Monde reported over the weekend.

The funds were taken from the vaults of several branches of the bank across Gaza, said the report, which cited a Bank of Palestine document sent to “certain international partners” detailing the alleged robberies.

In one instance, the largest Bank of Palestine branch was attacked by terrorist commandos who claimed they were sent by “Gaza’s highest authorities,” which Le Monde said was understood to mean Hamas.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s Monetary Authority confirmed in a statement that “unknown entities” looted Gaza financial institutions, stealing “the contents of the destroyed branches, including cash.”

With dozens of branches in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the Bank of Palestine is the leading Palestinian financial institution. The bank was founded in 1960 by the Gaza-based al-Shawa family, which retains a significant interest in the business.

Three months ago, Israeli troops in Gaza were put in mortal danger, including by Hamas snipers, during a mission to retrieve millions in currency intended for the Palestinian Authority.

According to an Israel Defense Forces statement cited by Maariv, Jerusalem instructed the military in early February to enter a Bank of Palestine branch in Gaza City’s Rimal area “to prevent the Hamas terror organization from seizing funds and using them for terrorist purposes.”

Some 200 million shekels ($55 million) were seized and loaded into armored vans as part of the operation, which sources told local media Jerusalem intended to transfer to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

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