LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Israel has frozen cryptocurrency accounts used to solicit donations for the Palestinian militant group Hamas on social media, police said on Tuesday.
Hamas launched devastating attacks from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, in one of the most serious escalations in the Israel-Palestinian conflict in years.
"According to suspicions, with the outbreak of the war, Hamas' terrorist organisation initiated a fundraising campaign on social networks, urging the public to deposit cryptocurrencies into their accounts," a police statement said.
"The Police Cyber Unit and Ministry of Defense immediately took action to locate and freeze these accounts, with the assistance of the Binance crypto exchange, in order to divert the funds to the state treasury."
The statement did not give further details of how many accounts were frozen, nor the value of crypto seized.
Reuters was unable to reach Hamas spokespeople for comment.
"Over the past few days our team has been working in real time, around the clock, to support ongoing efforts to combat terror financing," a Binance spokesperson said, adding that the exchange "actively partners" with global law enforcement agencies and regulators.
"The data we use to pinpoint individuals, addresses, and infrastructures associated with specific organisations stems from intelligence provided by law enforcement and investigative tools we, and our partners, have developed."
Hamas had endorsed crypto as a fundraising method for years, but said in April it would stop receiving fundraising via the cryptocurrency bitcoin, citing an increase in "hostile" activity against donors.
Reuters reported in May that Israel had seized around 190 crypto accounts at Binance since 2021, including two it said were linked to Islamic State and dozens it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to Hamas.
In response to that article, Binance said that it works with law enforcement and "leverages information that is only available to them in order to identify individuals operating accounts for illicit organisations".
Reporting by Henriette Chacar in Jerusalem, additional reporting by Tom Wilson in London and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, writing by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Nick Macfie
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