The Israeli Defense Ministry has announced the seizure of digital wallets containing cryptocurrency allegedly intended to fund the terrorist group Hamas.
Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a seizure order for 30 wallets containing tens of thousands of shekels linked to 12 digital accounts, according to a press statement issued by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel (NBCTF).
Per the release, the wallets belonged to businesses that "assisted the Al'matchadun currency exchange company belonging to the Shamlach family declared by the Defense Minister as a terror organization," with some of the seized cryptocurrency owned by the Shamlach family directly.
The Shamlach family has been on Israel’s radar for some time, with the NBCTF noting that through the currency exchange companies it owns, it "assists the Hamas terror organization, particularly its military arm, by transferring funds in scopes of dozens of million dollars annually."
In May 2021, Gantz signed an order that designated currency exchange companies “Al-Markaziya li-siarafa" and “Arab Trading Company China", owned by Zuhir Yunes Shamalch, as terrorist organizations, accusing them of facilitating the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to the military wing of Hamas each year.
“We will continue to target the Iran-Hamas axis, and disrupt the funding channels which serves the military wings of the terrorist organizations,” Gantz said at the time.
Hamas and crypto
Palestinian terror group Hamas has seen an uptick in cryptocurrency donations, in a bid to circumvent international sanctions. In June 2021, a Hamas official said that there had been a "spike" in Bitcoin donations to the group, adding that, "Some of the money gets used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians."
Israel has responded by seizing cryptocurrency wallets linked to Hamas; in July 2021, wallets containing $7.7 million in Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Tether (USDT) were found and seized by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Hamas hasn't just been soliciting donations in crypto; earlier this year, a police investigation in India unearthed links between a crypto wallet hack and the terrorist group. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash worth over half a million dollars was looted from a Delhi businessman's wallet before being routed to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.