Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill targeting Hamas financing, citing bitcoin donations

Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill targeting Hamas financing, citing bitcoin donations
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at further cutting off funds for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerDemocrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions Congress braces for spending fights amid threat of government shutdown Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE (D-N.J.) and Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastReps. Greene, Roy fined for not wearing masks on House floor The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Texas's near abortion ban takes effect Absent Democrats give Republicans new opening on Afghanistan MORE (R-Fl.), cites a rise in bitcoin donations to the terrorist group that spiked amid its latest conflict with Israel last month.

The bill, titled the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act, would target sanctions against individuals, agencies or governments that assist Hamas or other militant groups operating in Gaza, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  

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The legislation has more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. 

Hamas is under sanctions by the U.S., which designated it a terrorist group in 1997, and the Treasury Department has routinely targeted for sanctions individuals and entities associated with the group's financing.  

But the lawmakers cite a rise in cryptocurrency donations to the terrorist group as a reason to expand legislation. 

A senior Hamas official told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that the sanctioned group saw a “spike” in bitcoin donations amid the 11-day conflict with Israel, declining to say how much revenue was brought in but adding that “its proportion of overall revenue was rising.”

The new legislation calls for the executive branch to provide annually to Congress a report identifying “each foreign person or agency or instrumentality of a foreign state” that provides significant financial or material support to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or an affiliate and requires the president to impose two or more sanctions. 

The legislation provides a carveout to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including food, medicine and medical devices. 

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The new legislation builds on a similar bill authored by Mast that passed the House in the 116th Congress, called the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act.

"This bill will strengthen sanctions to weaken these terrorist groups that threaten our ally Israel, undermine peace, and further destabilize the Middle East," Gottheimer said in a statement.

“Last Congress, the House passed a previous version of this legislation which also contains important humanitarian considerations. I hope Congress will come together to pass the bipartisan Hamas International Financing Prevention Act so it can be signed into law,” he added.