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February 28, 2022 3:29 pm

Israel Seizes Cryptocurrency Worth Tens of Thousands of Shekels in Crackdown on Hamas Financing

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A graphic representing the Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple and Litecoin cryptocurrencies. Illustration: Dado Ruvic/Reuters.

Israel said on Monday that it greenlighted the seizure of digital cryptocurrency that was allegedly “intended to assist” the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

“We are taking all the possible measures to cut off the economic ‘oxygen supply’ to terror organizations,” stated Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Gantz signed a seizure order targeting “cryptocurrency amounting to tens of thousands” of shekels from a dozen digital accounts, the Defense Ministry said. This included about 30 digital wallets that belonged to businesses associated with the Al’Matchadun currency exchange company, which has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Israel.

The Defense Ministry accused the family that owned the currency exchange company, and which held a portion of the confiscated cryptocurrency, of assisting Hamas, “particularly its military arm, by transferring tens of millions of dollars per year.”

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“As such, the companies were designated terror organizations,” the ministry said.

The cryptocurrency was confiscated in a joint operation by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing in Israel (NBCTF), the national cyber unit of Lahav 433, and the IDF’s Intelligence Division.

“We continue to expand the tools to cope with terror and the companies that support it. I commend the organizations involved for their intelligence, operational, and legal cooperation,” said Gantz. “We will continue to take all the measures necessary to fight terror.”

The seizure marks the third time in a year that Israeli authorities seized cryptocurrencies allegedly linked to funding terrorism.

Israel stepped up its activities as terrorist groups, namely Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, witnessed an inflow of cryptocurrency donations following their 11 days of hostilities with Israel in May. Last July, Israeli authorities issued a seizure order targeting nearly $8 million worth of cryptocurrency holdings controlled by Hamas.

Back in 2019, a report by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute alleged that ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood are using Telegram and other social-media platforms to raise cryptocurrency.

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