Israeli authorities have taken a significant step in their continuous efforts to combat terrorism financing. They have recently frozen cryptocurrency accounts linked to the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, as the Israel-Palestinian war rages on.
This move comes after a considerable escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Hamas launching destructive attacks from Gaza into Israel. In collaboration with Binance, a major cryptocurrency exchange, the Israeli police have initiated a crackdown on these accounts, suspected of being used by the terrorist organization for fundraising purposes.
The Lahav 433 unit, which is the cyber arm of Israel Police, collaborated with the country's defense ministry and intelligence agencies to carry out an operation with multiple strategies. The mission aimed to detect and freeze the cryptocurrency accounts associated with Hamas.
The partnership between Israeli law enforcement and Binance reflects their joint effort to disrupt the financial activities of Hamas, and any confiscated funds will be directed to the Israeli national treasury.
190 Binance Account Seized
In 2021, around 190 Binance accounts were seized for their alleged involvement with various terrorist groups. Binance, in collaboration with Israeli authorities, had previously shut down a terrorism financing operation that was linked to Iran's Quds Force and Hezbollah. This indicates the company's commitment to fighting against illegal financial activities.
Further, the CEO of Binance, Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, was sued by the U.S. Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) in March for allegedly knowing about "HAMAS transactions" on the platform.
Hamas had long employed cryptocurrency as a fundraising method. Still, in April, it announced its decision to cease accepting donations in the form of bitcoin due to perceived increased "hostile" activity against donors. However, this recent crackdown on their cryptocurrency accounts signifies that their efforts to raise funds through digital currencies have not gone unnoticed.
The Israeli police have indicated that, with the outbreak of the conflict, Hamas initiated a fundraising campaign on social media platforms, urging the public to deposit cryptocurrencies into their accounts. The Police Cyber Unit, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, promptly took action to locate and freeze these accounts, with vital assistance from Binance.
While the exact number of frozen accounts and the total value of cryptocurrency seized remain undisclosed, this operation highlights the importance of cooperation between cryptocurrency exchanges and law enforcement agencies in combating illicit financial activities.
Binance has reaffirmed its commitment to actively partnering with global law enforcement agencies and regulators, emphasizing its role in ensuring the safety and security of both the blockchain ecosystem and the international community.
Binance's spokesperson stated, "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 data we use to pinpoint individuals, addresses, and infrastructures associated with specific organizations stems from intelligence provided by law enforcement and investigative tools we, and our partners, have developed."
Relevancy of the Crypto Industry in Conflicts
This development underscores the ever-evolving landscape of cryptocurrency and its relevance in the context of conflicts such as the Israel and Palestine conflict. As technology continues to advance, both legitimate users and those with malicious intent find innovative ways to leverage digital currencies for their objectives.
The joint efforts of Israeli law enforcement and Binance to freeze cryptocurrency accounts linked to Hamas represent a significant step in the ongoing battle against terror financing.
While the Israel-Gaza war rages on, this operation serves as a reminder of the broader implications of cryptocurrency in today's world, where financial battles extend beyond traditional borders and into the digital realm. It remains to be seen how this action will impact Hamas' fundraising capabilities and whether it will deter further attempts to utilize cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes in the region.