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Israel targets Gaza money exchange companies, as blockade continues

Israeli Defence Minster Avigdor Lieberman [James N. Mattis/Flickr]
Head of Jewish Home party, Avigdor Lieberman [James N. Mattis/Flickr]

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued an order on 21 June "designating the Hamed Exchange Company in Gaza City a terrorist organisation", reported Al-Monitor.

According to the news site, "the directive follows a recommendation by Shin Bet, Israel's intelligence service, accusing the company of funding Hamas."

Lieberman claimed that "declaring the company a terrorist organisation would prevent it from working with financial institutions internationally, thus cutting off sources of funding for [Hamas]."

Al-Monitor said Lieberman's order is "considered a first of its kind measure by Israel against a company in Gaza", albeit "foreshadowed by the Israeli military's campaign against money exchange operations in the West Bank between 2006 and 2017."

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The report said the move "has raised concerns among other exchange companies and shops, so their owners are reluctant to talk to the press for fear of being targeted by Israel."

A former partner of Hamed Exchange, Mahmoud Hamid, denied Israel's accusations, stressing "that Hamed's operations had been limited to currency exchange and domestic money transfers".

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesperson in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, also denied the accusations made against the company, and told Al-Monitor the decision was "another element in Israel's propaganda campaign to justify its siege of Gaza".

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"Qassem noted that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have stepped up sanctions against Gaza in recent months with the goal of coercing Palestinian resistance factions and fulfilling political plans advocated by the United States," the report added.

Al-Monitor further noted that "in recent months, Israel has tightened its fiscal blockade of Gaza, refusing to convert foreign currency in adequate quantities, including dollars and Jordanian dinars".

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