It’s been almost a week since the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group Hamas launched deadly attacks on Israel that saw more than 1,000 civilians killed, about 2,500 injured, and hundreds of men, women and children kidnapped.
The militants who have an arsenal of modern weapons, used long-range missiles, drones, automatic rifles, and even paragliders to conduct their highly sophisticated operation that breached Israel’s Iron Dome – an all-weather air defense system introduced in 2011 that is designed to intercept and destroy rockets and artillery shells fired from Gaza.
In what is said to be the single deadliest attack in Israel’s history, armed assassins stormed into a music festival in the country’s south, killing an estimated 260 attendees. Hamas even broadcasted their actions live for the world to see.
However, in the middle of all this chaos, one question remains. How were they able to fund this military operation?
Hamas and Hezbollah Seek Donations in Crypto To Escape Economic Sanctions
Sources say the group leverages cryptocurrencies, as they believe the decentralized finance (DeFi) networks powering crypto tokens could be used as an escape route to send or receive funds without ever being caught out by the regulated financial system.
In August 2020, the U.S. government seized the cryptocurrency wallets of three terrorist organizations, including the al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Hamas affiliate launched an online cryptocurrency fundraiser on social media with the intention of funding its various terrorist campaigns against Israel. al-Qassam then provided links to its official websites where they boasted about how BTC could be used for violent causes as transactions on the Bitcoin network were untraceable.
The website even offered video instructions on how to make anonymous BTC donations using unique wallet addresses that were generated for each individual donor.
However, the donations were not anonymous. In fact, every Bitcoin transaction made to the group was recorded on the blockchain. Agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security (HSI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracked and seized all 150 cryptocurrency wallets that laundered funds to and from accounts linked to the al-Qassam Brigades.
Discover more : Crypto Firms Launch Donation Fund To Aid Israel War Victims
Palestinian Terror Groups Recieve Millions In Crypto To Fund Attacks Against Israel
Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas and its affiliates have received hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency donations to fund its latest terrorist operation.
According to data provided by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic and Tel Aviv-based crypto portfolio tracker BitOK, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), one of the groups responsible for abducting Israeli citizens, received $93 million in crypto funds between August 2021 and June 2023. Wallets connected to Hamas also raked in around $41 million in crypto in the same time frame.
The report also said that the al-Qassam Brigades received up to $100,000 in BTC since the beginning of 2021, with donations spiking in May when Israel and Hamas militants last fought each other.
Interestingly enough, BTC was not the only cryptocurrency demanded by the terrorists. Hamas and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah also accept donations in Dogecoin (DOGE), Ether (ETH), and USD-pegged stablecoin coins like Tether (USDT) and USDC.
Discover more : Global Oil Prices Spike Following Israel-Hamas War
Israeli Authorities Freeze Crypto Wallets And Bank Accounts Linked To Hamas
On October 11, Lahav 433, the cybercrime unit of the Israeli Police, along with the Ministry of Defense, the General Security Service, and other intelligence agencies, were able to seize 189 wallets linked to Hamas on the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
The terror group launched social media campaigns asking for financial support from the public in crypto after heavy economic sanctions by Israel and the U.S. had curtailed their efforts to get funding through regulated fiat currency channels.
Lahav 433 worked with Binance to identify Hamas-linked crypto wallets on its platform and withdrew funds deposited in them to Israeli state coffers. The National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing (NBCTF) with its British counterparts have frozen Barclays bank accounts that were mentioned in the donations website published by Hamas.
Last year, the U.S. authorities targeted an expansive network of financial facilitators and six companies across the Middle East and North Africa that were generating revenue for Hamas through an international investment portfolio.
Crypto Is Not Hamas’ Main Funding Source
However, crypto is not the main source of funding for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or the al-Qassam Brigades. It is Iran that is the terrorist organization’s largest funder. According to the U.S. government, Tehran provides to the tune of $100 million a year in military and financial assistance to Palestine.