Hamas, the Palestinian military and political organization governing the Gaza Strip, announced they have started using the cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) to accept donations and fund their military operations in their conflict against Israel. The switch was announced this week on a popular pro-Jihad Telegram channel, "Holocaust Enthusiasts", according to sources close to the militant group.
This comes after the reporting from Reuters in April that the Hamas military wing - al-Qassam Brigades - announced it would stop fundraising in Bitcoin to protect its donors citing "Bitcoin's blockchain is too transparent and easy to trace. Jihadists and our supporters value privacy"
Due to its reputation as a privacy crypto, The Bugle expected to run into dead ends while attempting to find out more information regarding the entities using Monero to fund Hamas after the launch of its recent fundraising campaign last week, which included a surprise terrorist attack on Israel in which many of Hamas' top fundraisers slaughtered over 1000 Israeli civilians, including women and children. However, this author's cousin coincidentally attends the University of Pennsylvania where student organizations have been rallying behind Hamas to show their support in the militant group's developing war against Israel.
Stacey G., a sophomore studying Sociology and Resistance Theory at UPenn, told The Bugle, "When I first heard about cryptocurrency, I wasn't a fan. I read troubling stories about how damaging it was to the climate which made it a non-starter for me. But when I heard Palestinians needed our support and accepted Monero, I decided to dig deeper. It turns out that there's really no energy backing Monero. Palestinians running Windows Millennium Edition on their old desktop computers can mine it. This assuaged any guilt I had about harming our planet."
We asked Stacey to show us how she sends Monero to Hamas wallets to help the people of Gaza. She demonstrated by calling her father, a banker in NYC and fellow University of Pennsylvania alum, and asked him to wire $5000 to her account on the popular crypto exchange Kraken. In less than an hour, she text us to tell us her wire had landed. When we met her at a Starbucks near campus she showed us her Kraken account balance. She then pulled up Facebook group page dedicated to Hamas, copied the Monero address alleged to belong to the group pinned at the top of the page, pasted it into Kraken and sent the transaction.
"Nobody can trace this back to me," she told The Bugle. "It's really awesome!"
Another student, Anthony H. a senior studying political science and treasurer for the University of Pennsylvania Male Feminist League, told The Bugle that he liked Monero because it was being used to support a good cause. He also noted that his father, who works at a steel plant in central Pennsylvania, was a big fan of Bitcoin. Anthony was skeptical. "My dad has been into Bitcoin for years now. He talks about separating money and state and things like protecting his savings. He works in a steel plant which pollutes the environment, he is a deacon at a Presbyterian church, and is a member of a trade union which has a history of racist positions. We just have different values." When asked to elaborate Anthony obliged "I've always related to oppressed people and their struggle. I would rather my extra income which is a result of privilege go towards a group of people who are fighting real important battles. Hamas' struggle against Israeli white supremacists encapsulate that, to me."
A leaked document from the on-chain forensics company Chainalysis in 2021 revealed that many Monero users use public blockchain explorer sites to check the status of their blockchain crypto payments. The company is able to scrape the IP address of website visitors and associate it to the wallet or transactions they query using the sites API. The Bugle reached out to Chainalysis to find out if transactions sent to Hamas were being traced. A spokesperson told us they could not comment at the time of the writing of this article due to all their employees' attention being focused on work they are currently being contracted to perform by the IRS, CIA, and Mossad.