Gaza shoppers may be bad for your business – fake bills flood Sinai
Photo: Ata Awisat
About $1 million in counterfeit bills, apparently originating in the Gaza Strip, were seized in the Sinai Peninsula in the past few days, Egyptian security sources told Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Thursday.
According to the sources, hundreds of counterfeit bills, which are being used by merchants amongst themselves or in their dealings with the Egyptian banks, are being discovered every day.
The Egyptian security sources estimated that additional forged banknotes would be discovered in the near future in light of the fact that Egyptian residents – mainly in the el-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zweid areas – are expected to use the money they received from Gaza residents in exchange for the various goods they sold them.
Meanwhile, the sources said, it is impossible to determine the total amount of forged money transferred to Egypt, as not all of them have been reused.
According to the sources, the Egyptians received warnings regarding counterfeit bills making their way into Sinai immediately after Hamas gunmen breached the Gaza-Egypt border, and these warnings were delivered to the merchants, most of whom made sure to examine the money.
Egyptian officials have said that the Rafah crossing would not be breached again, and that next time it would only be opened legally.
"Sinai is a holy place for Egyptian citizens and is not saleable or merchandisable," an official said.
Less than a week ago, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Hamas was seriously contemplating severing the Gaza Strip’s economic ties with Israel, quoting a senior advisor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The advisor, Ahmed Yousef, was asked whether Hamas was also considering abandoning the use of Israeli currency in the Strip. Yousef indicated that this “might be possible in the future. Residents of Gaza can always trade in American Dollars, Jordanian Dinars or Egyptian Pounds at a later point.”
Following the interview, Yousef was reprimanded by Hamas leaders.