A group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill aimed at reducing funding for the Palestinian nationalist group Hamas on Wednesday, including through crypto.
Senior officials for Hamas, which the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist organization and which controls the Gaza Strip, recently told The Wall Street Journal the organization has experienced a swelling in the amount of cryptocurrency donations since the beginning of an armed conflict with Israel in May.
Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic confirmed the trend in crypto donations to designated terrorist organizations in a blog post published in June. Elliptic reported the military wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, had received over $100,000 in bitcoin donations since 2019, $73,000 of which was donated after the start of the armed conflict in May.
Cryptocurrency donations circumvent existing sanctions measures, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), in his press release announcing the bill. The Hamas International Financing Prevention Act is an attempt to update and expand existing legislation which already sanctions individuals and entities providing financial support to Hamas.
The legislation has 51 bipartisan co-sponsors.
“It is critical that the United States and our allies continue to isolate terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by cutting them off at the source,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “This bill would strengthen sanctions to weaken these terrorist groups that threaten our ally Israel, undermine peace, and further destabilize the Middle East.”
A previous version of this bill was introduced in the last Congress but died at the end of the session.