The Times of Israel Mistakes Bitcoin as a Company When Covering the Hamas Terrorist Group
Hamas recently made headlines after asking supporters to send them Bitcoin in order to further operations. The group, considered a terrorist organization by many countries, faces a land, air, and sea blockade by Egypt and Israel on the Gaza Strip.
The call for cryptocurrency came out on Hamas’ official Telegram channel on January 29th. Abu Obeida asked ‘all lovers of the resistance’ and supporters of Hamas to send Bitcoin, and indicated the group was “seeking to find all possible support for the resistance.”
News of the request was picked up by media across the globe and was extensively covered by outlets inside Israel.
In its coverage of the matter, the Times of Israel made what looks to either be a big gaffe or some sort of reporting an error in an article. The paper said at the tail end of a piece how “there was no immediate reply from Bitcoin” concerning the Hamas Bitcoin financing story.
The last line immediately raises the question about what the paper meant when it ‘contacted Bitcoin,’ since it is not a payment company (or for that matter, a company at all). Some speculated the line could have been a mistype for something like Bitcoin.com or Bitcoin.org, or a different website that had ‘Bitcoin’ in the name.
Others argued the sentence exemplified the poor coverage cryptocurrency receives by many in the mainstream media who have little to no knowledge about the concept.
As of press time, the article had been revised so “there was no immediate reply from Bitcoin” was removed. The piece also reiterated the tired point of linking cryptocurrency usage towards ‘dark’ websites and criminality, It said:
“Bitcoin has faced criticism in the past over underground websites where people have used the currency to buy drugs and guns.”
Arguments linking cryptocurrencies to terrorism and criminal activities have not held much water so far. Yaya Fanuise of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance reiterated in September 2018 how cash was still the preferred way for terrorists to move money.
Writing for Forbes, Ted Knutson noted how secretly converting cryptocurrencies into fiat money is still very difficult for terrorist groups, meaning they are not able to utilize them effectively.