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For a small but growing community of users in the occupied Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, bitcoin has become a lifeline.

Ahmed Ismail, a financial analyst in Gaza, estimated there are at least 20 unofficial "exchange" offices there dealing cryptocurrency to local users. Ismail himself helps 30 clients use bitcoin to purchase investments abroad, such as stocks, since there aren't any local alternatives for putting money to work.

One such currency dealer in Gaza, Mohammed, told CoinDesk over the past four years he helped up to 50 families a month purchase an average of $500 worth of bitcoin each to send money abroad or shop online.

"Bitcoin, in their opinion, is cheaper, safer, and quicker," he said. "Nothing works with Palestinian banks. Bitcoin wallets are alternative banks."

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