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Palestine, Gaza Strip, Bank of Palestine robbed several times. The thieves pretended to be Hamas

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In April this year, armed gangs robbed branches of the Bank of Palestine several times. The institution lost at least EUR 66 million, the website of the French daily “Le Monde” reported. In one case, the robbers suggested their links to Hamas.

The first robbery occurred in mid-April at a bank branch located in the richest district of Gaza City, Rimal. Bank employees found a hole in the ceiling of the vault, through which the robbers took out cash cassettes into ATMs. Their loot was EUR 2.8 million in Israeli shekels.

The robbery, according to “Le Monde”, caused panic among managers of a private Palestinian financial institution founded in Gaza 60 years ago and run by a large family.

They forced the safes to be opened

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After consulting with the Palestinian Authority, officials took drastic steps to avoid further losses. Employees additionally secured the safes, which contained significant cash reserves, by filling them with cement. “They could have skipped this effort,” said Le Monde. The next day, an armed group blew up a concrete barrier and took approximately €30 million from safes.

The next morning, in another branch of the same bank, employees who wanted to withdraw some of the money collected there were met by a unit pretending to be officers of the “highest authorities in Gaza”, which refers to the terrorist organization Hamas. Threatening the employees with immediate execution, they forced the safes to be opened. One of the employees had a heart attack and the bandits escaped with nearly EUR 34 million.

A queue in front of a Palestinian bank ATM in the Gaza Strip Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images

Loss estimation

The bank estimated losses at over EUR 66 million. According to “Le Monde”, the remaining cash was secured more effectively.

The Bank of Palestine refused to comment to the French newspaper, and the Palestinian Monetary Authority – an independent body that oversees the financial system in the Palestinian territories – said it plans to issue a statement on the matter soon.

Main photo source: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images

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