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Israeli police seize Hamas crypto wallets on Binance, media reports say

Israeli police seize Hamas crypto wallets on Binance, media reports say
Regulation
Hamas has long used cryptocurrencies as part of its fundraising efforts, authorities say. Credit: Shutterstock / Anas-Mohammed
  • Hamas sought to solicit crypto donations after its surprise attack on Israel on Saturday.
  • Israeli authorities seized the undisclosed amounts off the Binance accounts linked to the donations.
  • US regulators in March alleged Binance illegally facilitated Hamas' transactions.

Israeli police froze crypto wallets on Binance used by Palestinian militant group Hamas to collect online donations, according to local Israeli media reports published on Tuesday morning.

After Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, the organisation set up a fund-raising campaign across social media networks and asked donors to give cryptocurrencies, national online news outlet Ynet reported.

Cybercrime unit

An Israeli cybercrime unit called Lahav 433 located the accounts on Binance, seized them, and then transferred the funds to the state treasury, Ynet said.

The media posts did not report the value of the coins that were seized.

The legal action was supported by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel , or NBCTF, the Ministry of Defence, and intelligence organisations.

Global security

Binance did not address the news Hamas was using wallets on its platform. A spokesperson told DL News that Israel’s NBCTF and the Israeli National Cybercrime Unit acknowledged its contributions to global security earlier this year.

“Over the past few days our team has been working in real time, around the clock to support ongoing efforts to combat terror financing,” the Binance spokesperson said.

Israel’s Ministry of Defence worked with the Binance investigations and compliance teams to “help take down a terrorism financing operation linked to Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah,” according to a Binance blog post in June.

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Hamas militants have killed 900 Israelies and abducted more than 150 since the weekend assault started, according to the military.

Some 770 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, while 187,000 Gazans are now displaced, according to Euronews, which cited the UN and health officials.

This is not the first time Binance has been associated with Hamas, an organisation that governs the Palestinian enclave of Gaza hugging the Mediterranean Sea and home to more than 2 million people. The US designates Hamas a terrorist organisation.

Hamas-linked transactions

In March, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused Binance of failing to comply with the US prohibition on doing business with Hamas. In a lawsuit filed against the exchange, the CFTC cites internal comments from 2019 when Samuel Lim, then chief compliance officer, received information on Hamas-linked transactions.

Lim allegedly wrote to a colleague that terrorist “small sums” as “large sums constitute money laundering.” The colleague replied that they “can barely buy an AK47 with 600 bucks.”

Israel has long chased down crypto accounts linked to Hamas funding. In 2022, Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered the seizure of crypto assets from 30 wallets officials alleged were funding Hamas.

In 2021, Israeli authorities blocked 84 addresses believed to be linked to Hamas that had received $7.7 million in crypto assets, according to Elliptic, a blockchain forensics firm.

Inbar Preiss is a Brussels-based correspondent who covers crypto regulatory policy in the European Union. Have a tip? Contact the author at inbar@dlnews.com.