Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
PA employees line up at the ATM outside the Bank of Palestine in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 8, 2023.

The French daily afternoon broadsheet Le Monde on Saturday reported that during April, armed groups, including one claiming to be Hamas, stole a total of 66 million euros from the coffers of several banks in the city. Le Monde noted that the IDF also seized funds from Gaza banks.

According to the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA), these eight banks operate in the Gaza Strip, out of 16 that operate in the PA: Bank of Palestine, Arab Islamic Bank, Palestine Islamic Bank, Palestine Investment Bank, Al Quds Bank, The National Bank TNB, Safa Bank, and Arab Bank.


According to Le Monde, on the morning of April 16, employees at the main branch of the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City noticed that a hole had been drilled in the ceiling of the vault. An unidentified armed group had entered a few hours earlier into the nerve center of the bank, in the heart of the Rimal district, which before the war was the most affluent in the coastal enclave. The criminals got their hands on ATM cassettes, containing the equivalent of 2.8 million euros in Israeli shekels. After trying in vain to open the safes, they disappeared into the ruined city, besieged by the Israeli army and largely depopulated.

The details of this heist are recorded in a document dated April 20 obtained by Le Monde, that the Bank of Palestine, the largest in the PA, sent to some of its international partners. This event plunged the managers of this private financial institution into panic.

The Bank of Palestine was founded in Gaza in the 1960s by the Shawa family which still runs it.

After consulting the Palestinian Authority and the Currency Authority, the regulator of the PA banking sector, the bank officials hired workers who buried the safes of the Rimal building in cement, to protect the remaining significant cash reserves. But the next morning, April 17, “armed groups” went into the building again with explosives, blew up the cement box poured the day before, and opened three safes, taking the equivalent of 29 million euros in different currencies.

The next day, April 18, after consultation “with customers and merchants,” bank employees went to a second branch, the largest in the city center, to remove the funds that were stored there. But when they opened the doors of that branch, they were met by men who claimed to be from Hamas. They forced the bank employees to open the safes or they would be executed. Shots were fired, and there were no injuries, but one employee suffered a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. The Hamas team left with the equivalent of 33.6 million euros in Israeli shekels.

The bank’s estimated losses in one month stand at more than 66 million euros, including the loss from a heist carried out at night by armed men on April 7 in the branch on Omar Al-Mokhtar Street, taking 3.7 million euros in various currencies.

All the bank’s other safes have been cemented since then. The Bank of Palestine, for its part, declined to comment.

According to Le Monde, the IDF seized a large sum of money belonging to the Bank of Palestine in Gaza, and its managers are waiting for a long Israeli administrative process to conclude that these funds do not belong to terrorists and should be returned.

Israeli media reported in February that tens of millions of dollars were confiscated, to prevent Hamas from getting their hands on the money.


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