Israel has frozen several cryptocurrency accounts that it claims belong to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to a report by Calcalist. The report cites an official press statement from the National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing (NBCTF), which is part of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
The NBCTF said that it collaborated with the cyber unit of the Israel Police, the Shin Bet security service, and the Binance cryptocurrency exchange to identify and block the accounts. The report did not specify how many accounts were frozen or how much money was involved.
The NBCTF said that Hamas has been using cryptocurrency to finance its terrorist activities, especially after the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza. The report said that Hamas has been soliciting donations from its supporters through social media platforms and directing them to use various cryptocurrency wallets.
The NBCTF said that it has been monitoring these wallets and tracing their transactions. It said that it has also been working with Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, to freeze any accounts that are linked to Hamas.
Binance confirmed that it has been cooperating with Israeli authorities to combat terror financing. A spokesperson for Binance told CoinDesk that the exchange’s team has been working “in real-time, around the clock” to support the ongoing efforts.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety and security not just of the blockchain ecosystem, but also the global community, through our proactive work,” the spokesperson said.
This is not the first time that Israel has targeted cryptocurrency accounts linked to Hamas. In 2021, Reuters reported that Israel had seized around 190 Binance accounts with alleged ties to terrorist groups since 2018.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union. It has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007 and has been engaged in several armed conflicts with Israel over the years. The latest round of violence erupted in May 2023, when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli cities and Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza. The fighting lasted for 11 days and killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians.