Israeli law enforcement has taken an urgent step in its fight against 'terrorist' financing, freezing cryptocurrency accounts associated with the Palestinian militant organization Hamas.
The action follows a multi-faceted attack by Hamas on Israel over the weekend, escalating tensions into an all-out war, prompting Israel's defense minister to order a comprehensive blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The operation to freeze these cryptocurrency assets was executed by the cyber division of Lahav 433 unit, in close collaboration with the country's defense ministry, intelligence agencies, and Binance. The frozen funds will be channeled into the Israeli national treasury.
This move comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed against Binance’s CEO, Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, by the U.S. Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) in March. The lawsuit alleged that the exchange was aware of "HAMAS transactions" taking place on its platform. Notably, Israeli authorities had previously taken action against approximately 190 Binance accounts, all with alleged links to various 'terrorist' groups, since 2021.
The Israeli government has been since 2021, alleging ties to terrorist organizations, most notably Hamas and Daesh (ISIS). These accounts were purportedly associated with individuals affiliated with these groups.
Previously undisclosed documents from National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing (NBCTF) have shed light on these operations. In January, the NBCTF seized cryptocurrency assets from two accounts suspected of having connections to Daesh, an organization classified as terrorist that's primarily active in Syria and Iraq. Additional government records dating back to 2021 indicated that more than 100 Binance accounts had alleged links to Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization that has engaged in numerous conflicts with the Israeli Defense Forces.
The NBCTF, in justifying the confiscation of these assets, stated that it aimed to disrupt Daesh's operations and undermine its objectives. It is worth noting that under , the defense minister possesses the authority to order the seizure of assets affiliated with designated terrorist organizations.
Previously, regarding its anti-money laundering (AML) practices. Critics argue that the exchange's policies have inadvertently encouraged users to circumvent its AML controls. Reports suggest that since 2017, Binance has processed over $10 billion in payments associated with criminal enterprises and individuals seeking to evade U.S. sanctions.
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