Monday, July 19, 2010

YNet: Hamas brags that it swaps fake shekels to Israel for real ones

From YNet:
The Bank of Israel is about to transfer tens of millions of shekels to the Gaza Strip this week. It has been less than six months since the last time this occurred. Hamas' website claims that the amount to be transferred is NIS 81 million (about $21 million).

A senior official in Israel's banking system claimed that the sum will be smaller than what Hamas claims, but confirmed that tens of millions of shekels will be cashed for residents of the coastal enclave.

The Hamas website asserts that the Bank of Israel is cashing money of two kinds for banks in the Strip. Firstly, it is exchanging worn-out banknotes for fresh ones, and, secondly, it is cashing money that Salam Fayyad's government in the Palestinian Authority transfers to Gaza as part of its aid program to the Strip.

Officials in the Israeli and Palestinian banking systems confirmed Hamas' claims.

The Bank of Israel declined to comment.

Deputy finance minister in the Hamas government Ismail Mahfouz boasted on the movement's website, "We are transferring counterfeit money to Israel, and they transfer real money to us in exchange."
I'm not sure if this is true. The screenshot that accompanied the story was not a Hamas website, but rather the  PA Ministry of Finance site, in a story from a few weeks ago about paying salaries and quoting Mahfouz about the possibility of a new Palestinian Arab currency, plus a few other topics, but nothing about counterfeiting.

The YNet story is mentioned in a number of Arabic media, but without attribution, so it might be that YNet got it from a Fatah site, or vice versa. At any rate, I cannot find any Hamas site that says this.

On the other hand, the Hamas-linked Felesteen site says that Hamas denies the charges that it sends counterfeit money, saying that Israel checks the worn-out notes. It also has a story about Hamas itself busting a counterfeit money operation over the weekend - where someone was printing out US currency on his laser printer.

YNet might be mistaken in this case.

(I updated this with new information about the YNet screenshot.)
(h/t Jed and Ali)