On October 10, the Israel Police cyber unit known as Lahav 443 announced that it had frozen crypto accounts suspected of being used by the Gaza-based Palestinian militant organization Hamas for collecting donations.
The cyber unit worked with the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, the defense ministry, and intelligence agencies to identify and take action against these accounts. Authorities will direct all funds seized during this investigation to the Israeli national treasury.
It is part of measures taken in response to the deadly attacks carried out by Hamas on Israel since Saturday. Hamas has been active in fundraising through various social media platforms since Saturday, urging people to deposit cryptocurrencies into the organization’s accounts, the cyber unit said. These donations were likely intended to back its activities.
יחידת הסייבר בלהב 433 הקפיאה חשבונות של מטבעות קריפטוגרפיים, אשר שימשו את החמאס לגיוס תרומות ברשתות חברתיות pic.twitter.com/lsBwfduNgE
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) October 10, 2023
A Binance spokesperson told Decrypt:
“Our team has been working in real-time, around the clock, to support ongoing efforts to combat terror financing. We are working hard to ensure the security of not only the blockchain ecosystem, but also the global community.”
Moreover, Israel’s police cyber unit also collaborated with British law enforcement to freeze a Barclays bank account in the UK that Hamas was using for receiving direct donations. The report did not disclose the amount of funds seized during the operation.
CFTC Targeted Binance For Transactions Associated With Hamas
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a lawsuit against Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao “CZ” in March. The agency asserted that Binance officials had knowledge of transactions on the platform involving the group Hamas. However, Binance and Zhao denied the allegations. Reuters highlighted that Israeli authorities had frozen around 190 cryptocurrency accounts on Binance since 2021.
Binance’s active participation in the Israeli police operation against Hamas has generated a buzz within the crypto community. Currently, authorities and the exchange have not disclosed any additional details.
Following the ongoing attacks on Israel, the country’s crypto and Web3 communities jointly launched Crypto Aid Israel. This initiative aims to raise funds to help Israeli citizens displaced due to the conflict. Crypto Aid Israel has set up a multi-signature wallet to collect donations in various cryptocurrencies including BTC, ETH, and USDT.