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Cryptocurrency companies freeze accounts to block Hamas funding - report

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File Copyright AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
Copyright AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
By Pascale Davies
Published on Updated
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Israeli law enforcement has been working with crypto companies to block fund flows to Hamas.

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Israeli authorities have ordered dozens of cryptocurrency accounts to be closed following the October 7 attack by Hamas on the southern part of the country, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

More than 100 accounts on the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, were frozen, the newspaper said, adding that authorities requested information on some 200 other crypto accounts.

"We are deeply saddened by the events in the Middle East," Binance said in a statement sent to Euronews Next, adding that a "small number of accounts" were blocked.

“As always, Binance follows internationally recognised sanctions rules, blocking the small number of accounts linked to illicit funds.

"We wish for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict and the safety of all innocent civilians."

On Monday, the world’s largest stablecoin issuer Tether said it froze 32 virtual cryptocurrency wallets linked to “terrorism and warfare" in Israel and Ukraine.

A company spokesperson told Euronews Next that the first freeze for Israel was on March 16, 2023.

Tether said the wallet addresses have a combined value of $873,118 (over €827,000) and that it has been collaborating with the National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing in Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli police said on October 10 that they froze crypto accounts that were used to donate to Hamas, an Islamist political and military organisation, that has been labelled a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and multiple other countries.

As Hamas is a designated terrorist entity, it faces sanctions and exclusions from international banking systems, making cryptocurrencies an attractive alternative as they operate mostly outside of traditional banking systems and allow pseudonyms.

Between August 2021 and June 2023, Hamas received $41 million (€39 million) in cryptos, according to crypto analytics and software firm BitOK.

But Tether’s newly named CEO, Paolo Ardoino said: “Contrary to popular belief, cryptocurrency transactions are not anonymous; they are the most traceable and trackable assets.”

“Every transaction is recorded on the blockchain, making it feasible for anyone to trace fund movements. Consequently, criminals foolish enough to employ cryptocurrencies for illegal activities will inevitably be identified,” he said in a statement.

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