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After outbreak of war, Israel and allies work to block Hamas fundraising

Direct finance apps and cryptocurrency makes terror funding harder to track and stop

Hamas militants during a march in support of the Lion's Den group, in Gaza City, December 10, 2022. (Photo: Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Following the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, Israel began taking steps to block funding for the terror group.

Last week, the country announced the freezing and seizure of over 100 Binance accounts reportedly being used by Hamas for fundraising.

Binance is a cryptocurrency exchange for most of the major cryptocurrencies.

As part of the seizure and freezing, Israel was also able to freeze a traditional bank account linked to one of the cryptocurrency accounts in England.

The Israel Police released a statement: “The Israel Police, Ministry of Defense and other partners will continue the fight against terrorist financing and targeting the strategic financial assets of terrorist organizations.”

Binance said it was cooperating “to support ongoing efforts to combat terror financing.”

On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced a series of sanctions targeting Hamas’ financial network, including 10 Hamas individuals.

“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas's financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” Yellen said while announcing the sanctions.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Illicit Finance Brian Nelson urged U.S. allies and those in the private sector to join the efforts.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 102 other lawmakers, sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Nelson, urging action against funding of terror groups via cryptocurrency.

“Given the clear and present danger posed by the financing of these and other militant organizations, we ask the Administration to provide additional details on its plan to prevent the use of crypto for the financing of terrorism,” the letter said.

Warren has pushed for regulation of cryptocurrency before, and many cryptocurrency supporters view this an attempt to use the tragedy to garner support for her position.

Efforts to interrupt funding for Hamas are hampered by the complex clandestine financial network that it has constructed, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars through shell companies and Islamic charity organizations around the world.

A group of Israel tech entrepreneurs and finance industry workers recently formed an initiative to help with that effort.

The initiative discovered that Hamas has raised millions in funding since the war began by using fake news stories on social media and making calls for donations.

Although past funding often came through “charities” who claim to do humanitarian work in Gaza, recent crowdfunding campaigns did not hide the fact that they were raising funds for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups, according to an article in Ynet News.

One of the members of the initiative told Ynet that Hamas and other terror groups often use direct finance methods such as PayPal, Revolut, and Zelle, as well as cryptocurrency exchanges, to avoid existing sanctions.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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