Since the outbreak of the war, Hamas has launched a fundraising campaign on social media, inviting the public to deposit cryptocurrencies into their accounts. The police cyber unit and Israel’s National Counter-Terrorism Bureau quickly identified and froze these accounts with the assistance of cryptocurrency exchange Binance and transferred the funds to the Israeli treasury.
Over the years, Israel has consistently acted against Hamas’ fundraising efforts on social media, especially in the cryptocurrency sector. These digital assets provide a certain degree of anonymity to users and enable cross-border financial transfers that are less regulated by international authorities.
Since the US, EU and Western countries declared Hamas a terrorist organization, Hamas has faced economic sanctions, including exclusion from the global banking system. As the cryptocurrency market has expanded, Hamas has turned to these digital assets to manage its finances.
On January 31, 2019, Abu Ubaydah, spokesperson for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced that Hamas had begun accepting Bitcoin donations and posted a link to wallets associated with the organization. Among the addresses identified were those associated with cryptocurrency exchange Binance and others associated with America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. This public move led Binance to shut down a Hamas-linked wallet multiple times.
In July 2021, Israel confiscated cryptocurrency belonging to Hamas for the first time. And in January 2022, a second arrest took place after then-Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order to seize approximately $1 million in cryptocurrency.
Israel is working on the issue of monitoring and freezing crypto accounts not only in relation to Hamas. Last June, Defense Minister Yoav Galant announced that Israel had seized $1.7 million from crypto accounts linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.
Antonio Albanese e Graziella Giangiulio