Gaza banks close in protest at Hamas cash seizure

Banking official says Hamas police forcibly took $250,000 in shekels from a Palestinian Authority-backed fund's account.

March 3, 2011 12:37
1 minute read.
New Israeli Shekels

Money Shekels bills 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

GAZA  - Banks in Gaza closed on Thursday in protest against Hamas's seizure of $250,000 in cash in a dispute with the Palestinian Authority.

A banking official said Hamas police went to the Palestine Investment Bank on Wednesday and demanded the money from the account of the PA-backed Palestine Investment Fund, which Hamas alleged had been illegally transferring money out of Gaza.

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The PIF said its withdrawals from the bank were legitimate.

"(Hamas police) said unless they were given the money, they would take it by force," the official told Reuters. He said the police left with bags of cash filled with Israeli shekels worth $250,000 after several hours of discussion.

"All banks closed their doors today to protest against Hamas's assault on the Palestine Investment Bank," said the official, who declined to be identified.

A West Bank official for the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which oversees banking in Gaza and the West Bank, said the Hamas police had committed "armed robbery." In a statement, the monetary authority demanded the return of the cash.

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