Hamas fueled by cryptocurrency: million in crypto was used by terrorist group to fund activities, including weapons used in the attacks on Israel, while Palestinian Islamic Jihad group took million
- Hamas and other Palestine-based terror groups have received tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies which have helped fund the recent attacks in Israel
- Wallets linked to Hamas received digital currencies worth $41 million between August 2021 and June 2023, according to data from Tel Aviv-based researchers
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another designated terror group, received $91 million
Hamas and other terrorist groups in Palestine have received tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies which has helped fund the recent string of attacks in Israel, research reveals.
Hamas and its military wing received around $41 million in digital currencies between around August 2021 and June 2023, according to analysis by BitOK, a Tel Aviv-based firm.
Separate research by Elliptic, another crypto research firm, found that wallets linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad - another designated terror group - received around $91 million in the same time frame, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Receiving money as cryptocurrencies, which do not require mainstream financial institutions as intermediaries, can help the groups circumvent sanctions designed to limit their funding.
The findings come as US officials step up their attempts to regulate the wider crypto industry. Senator Elizabeth Warren said 'the danger of crypto-financed terrorism is real and should be an urgent priority for Congress'.
More than 1,400 Israelis have died since Hamas launched its assault on October 7. Fighters from Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also involved in the attack. Nearly 200 Israelis, including children, have been kidnapped by Hamas and taken into Gaza, Israel has said.
The Gaza health ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded since the fighting erupted. More than a million people have fled their homes ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas.
Israeli officials have previously said the rise of cryptocurrencies has made it harder to track and block funding for groups like Hamas.
Elliptic's research found that between August 2021 and April 2023, wallets linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad received millions of dollars every month. In May 2022, the group received nearly $10 million.
Tom Robinson, the co-founder of Elliptic, said Hamas 'has been one of the more successful users of crypto for the financing of terrorism'.
The groups have previously asked publicly for donations by Bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency. They also use so-called stablecoins, whose value is tied to that of the US dollar to prevent volatility, to carry out transactions.
Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, has said it has been working in 'real time, around the clock' since the Hamas attacks to support Israeli officials who are working to freeze accounts linked to terror groups.
Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, is currently pushing a bill to increase the regulation of cryptocurrencies, including imposing anti-money laundering rules.
She told Politico: 'There's a growing bipartisan coalition of senators who are committed to passing this bill and fighting back against terrorism worldwide by choking off the financing.'
US secretary of state Antony Blinken will return to Israel on Monday after completing a frantic six-country tour through Arab nations aimed at preventing the fighting from igniting a broader regional conflict, American officials said.
President Joe Biden is also considering a trip to Israel, though no plans have been finalized.
Biden has repeatedly proclaimed support for Israel, but he said in a TV interview he thought it would be a 'big mistake' for the country to reoccupy Gaza.
Israel's ambassadors to the US and UN said the country does not want an occupation. But ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told CNN that Israel will do 'whatever is needed to obliterate their (Hamas') capabilities'.