Israeli police and the Binance cryptocurrency exchange froze multiple cryptocurrency accounts associated with Hamas after the organization’s surprise attack over the weekend that left over 1,200 dead at present and started off the latest conflagration in the middle east.
As stated in an official press release on Tuesday, Israel’s Police Cyber Unit 433, in collaboration with the National Headquarters for Economic Warfare Against Terrorism (MATAL) under the Ministry of Defense, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and various intelligence agencies, has maintained ongoing efforts to track down cryptocurrency systems employed by terrorist groups for fundraising purposes.
“According to suspicions, with the outbreak of the war, Hamas’ terrorist organization initiated a fundraising campaign on social networks, urging the public to deposit cryptocurrencies into their accounts,” a police statement said.
“The Police Cyber Unit and Ministry of Defense immediately took action to locate and freeze these accounts, with the assistance of the Binance crypto exchange, in order to divert the funds to the state treasury.”
Israeli authorities have seized 190 Binance accounts since 2021
In a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) against Binance’s CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao in March, it is alleged that the company’s executives were aware of “HAMAS transactions” taking place on the platform.
Since 2021, Israeli authorities had previously taken control of approximately 190 Binance accounts suspected of having connections to terrorist organizations. Binance had collaborated with Israeli authorities in the past to combat terrorism financing associated with Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah.
Terrorist organizations have been using cryptocurrencies for financing for some time.
In 2019, Hamas resorted to cryptocurrency donations as a means to circumvent international sanctions. According to The Wall Street Journal, between June 2021 and August 2023, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was involved in the recent attack on Israel, accumulated $93 million in cryptocurrency, while Hamas managed to gather $41 million.
The most commonly used cryptocurrency was the stablecoin USDT, or Tether, due to its price stability relative to the American dollar.