Israeli authorities have reportedly cracked down on a digital currency web that has been used to fund Hamas terror group. According to the country’s Defense Ministry, the seizure has dealt a big blow to the group which has turned to digital assets as Israeli authorities continue to crack down on the group’s funding channels.
Defense Minister Beni Gantz signed the order to seize the digital currencies, which the Ministry claims amount to dozens of thousands of shekels. The government seized the assets from 12 digital accounts, including about 30 wallets belonging to businesses that were tied to the Al’matchadun currency exchange.
According to the Ministry’s statement, the exchange was owned by the Shamlach family, whose funds the government has been pursuing for years. The Ministry has previously declared the family as a terror organization.
“The Shamlach family, through the currency exchange companies it owns, assists the Hamas terror organization, particularly its military arm, by transferring funds in scopes of dozens of million dollars annually,” the Ministry’s statement said.
The crackdown and seizure, which Minister Gantz described as “acting in every conceivable way to cut off the economic oxygen pipe of terror,” was the result of a joint operation by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing in Israel, the Intelligence Division of the Israeli Defense Forces and the national cyber unit of Lahav 433.
The Minister remarked, “We continue and expand our tools to cope with the terror and the companies supplying it with the economic oxygen pipe. I wish to congratulate all the organizations for the intelligence, operational, and legal cooperation – we shall continue to work in integration to fight terror in any way and all means.”
This is the third time in a year that Israeli authorities have seized digital assets linked to Hamas, a terror group that now rules over the Gaza Strip. In January, the Ministry claimed to have seized 2.6 million shekels ($830,000) in digital currencies from an exchange run by Hamas.
However, at the time, a Hamas official claimed that the government exaggerated the size of the capture. It also claimed that the crackdown affected innocent people.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official stated, “We are not denying that donations from all over the world are deposited in these accounts, but some accounts are for people who have nothing to do with Hamas whatsoever.”
In July 2021, the Defense Ministry also seized 150 digital currency accounts tied to Hamas. Gantz described the crackdown as “an operational breakthrough.”
Beyond Israel, the U.S Department of Justice has also previously seized digital assets linked to the armed wing of Hamas, known as Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Hamas’ links to digital assets started in January 2019 when a top official at the group announced that it had begun to accept digital asset donations as governments and payment firms cut it off from the mainstream financial resources. Since then, the Israeli government has been relentlessly going after digital asset wallets linked to the group.
The use of digital currencies in illicit activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing has become a great concern for many regulators in recent years. With massive money laundering scandals being brought to light in the past decade, including the $230 billion scandal involving Danske Bank’s Estonia branch, regulators are keener than ever.
As CoinGeek reported, the U.K. recently introduced a new draft bill that seeks to rid the country of ‘dirty money.’ The bill comes at a time when concerns have been voiced about Russia using U.K. entities to launder money following crippling sanctions.
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