Israel seizes 30 crypto wallets allegedly used to fund Hamas

Defense Ministry declares Gaza-based exchange company a terror group, accuses it of funneling tens of millions of dollars a year to Hamas military wing

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: A coin bearing the Bitcoin logo, above several New Israeli Shekel banknotes. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Illustrative: A coin bearing the Bitcoin logo, above several New Israeli Shekel banknotes. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Digital wallets allegedly used by Hamas were seized by Israeli authorities, closing down funding methods for the Gaza-based terror group, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved the seizure of some 30 cryptocurrency wallets from 12 accounts, owned by an exchange company based in the Gaza Strip, which has since been declared a terror group by the ministry.

According to the ministry, the company — al-Mutahadun — owned by the Shamlah family, “assists the Hamas terror group, and especially its military wing, by transferring funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year.”

Funds linked to the Shamlah family have been targeted several times in the past by Israeli authorities.

The cryptocurrency — with an estimated value of tens of thousands of shekels — was confiscated in a joint effort by the Defense Ministry, police, and military.

“We continue to expand our tools to deal with terrorism, and with companies that supply it with an economic oxygen pipeline,” Gantz was quoted as saying in a statement.

Masked Hamas members parade with Qassam rockets through the streets of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2021. (AP/Yousef Masoud)

“I would like to congratulate all the organizations on their intelligence, operational and legal cooperation. We will continue to work together, in order to fight terror by any means and in any way,” he added.

In 2019, Hamas issued an appeal for donations from supporters via Bitcoin to help counter its financial woes. Months later, it launched an experimental program using a complex cryptocurrency system to raise money from international donors.

It has faced financial woes in recent years as banks have sought to ensure they have no dealings with the organization.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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