A set of 30 crypto wallets from 12 exchange accounts that have been linked to Hamas, a militant group based in the Gaza Strip, were seized on Monday by Israeli authorities.
Israel alleged that 12 accounts custodied by crypto exchange al-Mutahadunwere were being used by Hamas leaders to fund terrorist efforts against the nation. The Times of Israel reported on Monday that Israel’s Defense Ministry said that al-Mutahadun has helped Hamas’ military wing “by transferring funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year.”
The exact value of the seizures and which crypto assets specifically were seized is not yet clear; however, Israeli officials believe Hamas uses “tens of millions of dollars” in crypto to fund its military. In a statement Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said:
“We continue to expand our tools to cope with terrorism and the companies supplying it with the economic oxygen pipeline.”
Law enforcement agencies and banks around the world, such as BNY Mellon, have been increasingly tracking crypto transactions to pinpoint and drop the hammer on financial criminals. Blockchain transaction tracking firm Chainalysis has determined that only a small portion of crypto funds are used in criminal activity, however.
Hamas has been accepting crypto donations since 2019 when economic sanctions began severely constricting its ability to fight Israel.
The seizure of wallets was conducted with help from Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF). The NBCTF conducted a similar seizure of Hamas crypto funds in July 2021 when it confiscated wallets containing Tether (USDT), Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), XRP, BNB, Zcash (ZEC), Litecoin (LTC) and other assets.
Crypto tracking firm Cyphertrace confirmed that the funds seized in July were used by al-Qassam Brigades, a part of Hamas’ military.
Crypto-based donations are by no means limited to funding terrorism. In the first two months of 2022, supporters of the Freedom Convoy in Canada and Ukraine’s resistance force against Russia have raised millions in crypto donations.
Last month, crypto exchange Binance suspended services and marketing to Israelis upon request from the Capital Market, Insurance and Savings Authority. The suspension is likely to be in effect as long as the authority reviews the status of Binance’s license to do business in the country.