A set of 30 crypto wallets from 12 exchange accounts that have been linked to the terrorist group Hamas based in the Gaza Strip were seized on Monday by Israeli authorities.
Crypto exchange al-Mutahadun held the wallets where 12 accounts were allegedly being used by Hamas leaders to fund terrorist efforts against Israel. The Times of Israel reported that Israel’s Defense Ministry said on Feb. 28 that al-Mutahadun has helped Hamas’s military wing “by transferring funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year.”
The exact value of the seizures and specifically what crypto assets seized is not yet clear, however, Israeli officials believe Hamas uses “tens of millions of dollars” in crypto funds to fund its military. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a Feb. 28 statement
“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 against 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 last July when it confiscated wallets containing Tether (USDT), Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), XRP, Binance Coin (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’s military.
Crypto-based philanthropy is 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.