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As death tolls continue to climb and violence spreads in the rapidly escalating clash between Israel and Gaza that broke out on Saturday, cryptocurrency has emerged as a go-to fundraising tool across the region.
On Monday, a coalition of Israeli crypto executives announced the creation of Crypto Aid Israel, a fund designed to collect donations in 12 cryptocurrencies from across the world. The industry leaders plan to distribute funds to Israelis impacted or displaced by the weekend’s violence.
On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinian fighters linked to the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, bulldozed through barricades that separate the territory from southern Israel in a surprise attack and attempted to take over several settlements. About 800 Israelis were killed and at least 150 were taken hostage by the militants, according to the Israeli government.
The team behind Crypto Aid Israel says it will send crypto donations it raises to Israeli nonprofits, which will in turn aid families that fled southern Israel for Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, without packing necessities such as food and clothing. The aid group, which is comprised of executives from Israeli crypto companies including 42Studio, MarketAcross, Collider Ventures, and CryptoJungle, also says it has been in contact with multiple Israeli government agencies interested in overseeing the disbursement of funds raised by the group.
Kim Bazak, one of the founders of the initiative, told Decrypt that the impetus for focusing on crypto donations is to tap into and raise awareness specifically among the global Web3 community.
In Gaza as well, crypto has emerged as a popular fundraising tool since Sunday, when Israel began bombarding the territory with hundreds of airstrikes. On Monday, Israel’s defense minister called for a “complete siege” of Gaza that would cut off all electricity, food, water, and fuel to the coastal strip, which is home to around 600,000 people.
Numerous Arab charities have, since fighting broke out, listed crypto wallet addresses on social media sites to attract donations for Gazans, that have thus far raised several thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies. At least 687 Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,726 wounded,by Israel’s airstrike campaign so far, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.
It remains uncertain how rapidly those digital funds can be converted into tangible aid, given the damage already incurred to Gaza’s infrastructure. On Monday, an Israeli strike on the Palestine Telecommunications Company wiped out most internet in the territory, according to a report in The New York Times.
Who might receive those funds if they are ever doled out has also become a point of contention. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is officially designated a terrorist organization by the United States and other governments. According to several sources familiar with the matter, the Israeli government is working with on-chain analytics firm Chainalysis to scan solicited crypto addresses for potential ties to Hamas, and potentially seek their freezing by crypto exchanges including Binance.
Chainalysis declined comment when reached by Decrypt.