The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, which erupted in early October, has stirred not only geopolitical tensions but also concerns about its potential impact on the cryptocurrency market. While this war unfolds, financial markets are closely monitoring developments, and many are wondering if the crypto sector will remain resilient or face the volatility seen during previous conflicts.
Previous Perspective on Bitcoin’s Stability
Historically, geopolitical crises have often led to substantial market reactions. However, the cryptocurrency market, particularly Bitcoin, has often proven to be an exception.Previous geopolitical conflicts, like the 2022 Ukraine crisis, did not significantly affect Bitcoin's price, with the news preceding a steep, but ultimately short, drop which was then recouped within a day. This wasn't the first time; during the Israeli-Gaza conflict in 2021, Bitcoin exhibited similar stability, and Bitcoin has experienced minimal fluctuations during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict as well.
The main reason for this lies in the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies. Unlike traditional assets, Bitcoin operates independently of national economies and financial institutions. Therefore, it isn't significantly influenced by regional conflicts unless these conflicts disrupt the global financial system. As for the financial impact of the current Israel-Hamas conflict, things remain uncertain at this point in time, and a lot of the impact will be dependent on its duration, cost, and funding sources.
Despite the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Bitcoin's price has shown minimal fluctuations so far, hovering between the $27,000 and $28,000 range, with Bitcoin having recently slid below the $27K range to $26,700 at the time of writing. While many have cited the conflict as the reason for this slump, smaller cryptocurrencies like Solana and Polygon have been less affected as well. While things are still somewhat uncertain, this relative stability suggests that, at least in the short term, the crypto market has remained unfazed by the conflict.
Gaza, a region heavily impacted by the conflict, has had minimal influence on the global cryptocurrency market. Its population, while significant, is not substantial enough to cause significant market shifts. Moreover, groups like Hamas have solicited cryptocurrency donations in the past, but the impact on Bitcoin's price has been negligible.
Despite Bitcoin's current stability, the conflict's economic consequences are still unknown. The war's duration, financial toll, and funding methods could potentially affect cryptocurrency markets, as well as other global financial systems.
Should the conflict persist and lead to significant financial costs, governments might resort to borrowing money or printing additional currency, potentially resulting in inflation and undermining trust in traditional fiat currencies. In such a scenario, Bitcoin, often seen as a hedge against inflation and economic instability, could experience increased interest and investment.
However, the prevailing view among Bitcoin and cryptocurrency traders is that most of the market volatility stemming from the Israel-Hamas war is yet to come. Traders are comparing this situation to the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin's response to prolonged conflicts.
Hamas' Cryptocurrency Use
A noteworthy element in this conflict is Hamas's utilization of cryptocurrency for financing. Reports indicate that not only Hamas but also Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hezbollah have received significant sums of money through cryptocurrency donations.
According to a report by WSJ, PIJ allegedly received $93 million in cryptocurrency between August 2021 and June of the current year, and wallets linked to Hamas are reported to have received around $41 million during a similar period.
To prevent further funding, Israel’s police cyber unit worked with the UK authorities, other intelligence agencies, and Binance to block crypto accounts used by Hamas on exchanges to raise funds. They also froze the UK-based Barclays account that Hamas publicly disclosed to receive donations.
The motive behind the Israeli police's decision to freeze cryptocurrency accounts associated with Hamas is to cut off the financial resources flowing into the organization through social media campaigns. However, it remains uncertain whether these funds were directly used to finance the recent conflict or how much was seized from these crypto wallets.
The Unpredictable Future
The Israel-Hamas conflict and its potential influence on the crypto market highlight the complexity of geopolitical situations and their interplay with digital assets. While Bitcoin has demonstrated stability thus far, the long-term implications remain uncertain.
Bitcoin's resilience in the face of geopolitical crises truly highlights its status as a global financial asset that transcends regional conflicts. However, it also reminds us that the future is inherently unpredictable, and while resilient, the cryptocurrency market is not immune to external events.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, market participants will keep a close watch on cryptocurrency markets, looking for potential shifts as the conflict unfolds. While the past has shown Bitcoin's ability to weather geopolitical storms, only time will reveal its fate in this ongoing saga.