update deskIsrael at War

IDF: Hamas stole $100 million from Gaza banks

The Israeli military published internal records appearing to confirm earlier reports about the suspected robberies.

An employee of the Palestinian Authority displaying money he withdrew from a bank in Gaza City on June 11, 2014. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
An employee of the Palestinian Authority displaying money he withdrew from a bank in Gaza City on June 11, 2014. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

The Hamas terrorist group last month stole some $108 million from banks in the Gaza strip, the Israeli military revealed on Wednesday.

Last month, France’s Le Monde reported that armed groups in the Strip with suspected links to Hamas looted $70 million from branches of the Bank of Palestine, a leading Palestinian financial institution.

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 Wednesday, Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s spokesman to the Arab press, revealed documents which he said prove that the terror group stole 400 million shekels ($108 million)due to the “economic crisis facing Hamas.”

The papers, which he said were drafted by a senior Hamas member named “Abu Jihad,” were presumably discovered by IDF forces in Gaza.

“While the residents of Gaza are experiencing an economic and social crisis, Hamas—without any hesitation—is stealing from civilians for the sake of its survival and the survival of its members,” stated Adraee.

The Iran-backed terror organization “finances its activities on the backs of and out of the pockets of the people of the Gaza Strip,” he charged.

The Palestinian Authority’s Monetary Authority previously confirmed in a statement that “unknown entities” had 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.

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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