Israel has announced that it would begin confiscating cryptocurrency assets used by Palestinian Hamas to fund its military wing.
Security forces were instructed to confiscate the accounts by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday after a joint investigation “uncovered a web of electronic wallets” used by Hamas to generate cash using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to the ministry. It further stated that Hamas has been conducting an internet fundraising drive for its military branch, which increased during the 11-day conflict in Gaza early This month.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are popular for illegal transactions because they are difficult to track.
Gantz was cited as stating, “The intelligence, technological and legal tools that enable us to get our hands on terrorists’ money around the world constitute an operational breakthrough,” Hamas was legitimately elected in 2006 and took control of Gaza from rival Palestinian party Fatah a year later after the latter tried a preparatory takeover.
Israel has launched four major invasions on the rebel bastion since then, killing tens of thousands of people. The most recent one occurred in May, and it resulted in the deaths of 260 Palestinians, including at least 66 children. On the Israeli side, 13 individuals, including two children, were murdered.
Over the last month, an unstable truce mediated by Egypt has been repeatedly broken, with Israeli fighter planes striking various places it claims are Hamas military installations.
The US Department Of Justice announced last year that it had confiscated millions of dollars through cryptocurrency accounts used by militant groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) to fund their operations and deadly activities. The agency claimed it had seized $2 million in cryptocurrencies, as well as more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts, four sites, and four Facebook groups linked to the scams.
One aspect of the US inquiry focused on Hamas’ military branch. Law enforcement officers confiscated and over 150 cryptocurrency accounts they claim were used to launder the money from and to the group’s accounts.
Israel and Western countries consider Hamas, which seized Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007 and has fought four wars with Israel, to be a terrorist organization.