Bitcoin Could Be a Boon to Terrorists

Over the past year, the use of bitcoin—an Internet-based “currency” that operates without the control of a central bank—has increased significantly, generating some debate about whether it is the wave of the future or simply a new market for financial speculation. Shmuel Even asks a different question, of particular import to Israel: can it be prevented from serving as a tool for terrorists?

Internet currencies do not claim to replace state currencies, but even if [they become mainstream without doing so], it is hard to dismiss the idea that they could deprive states and the financial establishments that control the global financial system of their exclusive hold over means of payment, just as the Internet deprives states and the media of their exclusive control of information. With the existing systems, it is hard for the state to track “new money” and its usage, so the main risk posed to states by these currencies is of financial activity moving beyond the state’s knowledge or reach.

This includes the financial activity of terrorist and criminal organizations, which can use virtual currencies to pay their activists, acquire weapons on the black market, buy forbidden substances, launder money, and move money from country to country with no supervision. In the future, this currency system could also be used to bypass sanctions imposed on countries and [other entities], including the purchase of banned substances and technologies, since it is a separate global financial system that is not controlled by states or banks. . . .

Israel is still formulating its position [with regard to cybercurrency]. . . . In an open letter of February 2014, the Bank of Israel warned the public about the dangers of using decentralized virtual currencies, and stressed that they were not legal tender. . . . The bank said that [the use of these currencies constitutes] “a high-risk factor with regard to money laundering and funding of terror,” since it facilitates anonymous financial transactions that bypass regulated systems. . . .

Israel would do well to accelerate the process of deciding on its approach, with an integrated examination of the subject by all the regulatory bodies involved. . . and in collaboration with other elements worldwide.

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More about: Finance, Internet, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Terrorism

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict