Israeli Authorities Empowered to Seize Crypto from 150 Wallets

The Israeli government has received authorization to seize all the digital assets in over 150 wallets that were blacklisted for financing terrorism attacks.

The ruling was issued by Tel Aviv’s Magistrate Court according to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has already authorized the seizure of $33,500 worth of crypto from digital wallets connected to Gaza-headquartered Islamic militant group, Hamas.

Successfully, $750,000 worth of cryptocurrencies were seized from such wallets about a year ago.

Before this ruling, the authorities were allowed to confiscate digital assets used in the direct financing of any terrorist activity while leaving behind additional funds in such wallets. In February this year, thirty crypto wallets from twelve exchange accounts related to Hamas were seized. At the time, it was the third biggest seizure of cryptocurrency in 2022.

Shamlah family-owned cryptocurrency exchange Al-Mutahadun was discovered to be the host of the wallets that were being utilized by Hamas to perpetrate terrorism. Markedly, many jurisdictions recognize this Islamic militant group as a terrorist organization in whole or part. International regions like the United States, the European Union, Israel, and the United Kingdom frown at the activities of Hamas.

Terrorists Seek Refuge in Crypto

Since January 2019, the Palestinian militant organization began to make appeals to their supporters, inciting them to show solidarity by donating Bitcoin (BTC). With such donations, Hamas was sure that it would evade sections and outgrow financial isolation. It was after this time that Defence Minister Gantz signed an order equipping the authorities to seize crypto accounts of entities with connection to the military arm of Hamas.

The account contained a variety of cryptocurrencies including U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoins Tether (USDT), Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), Binance Coin (BNB), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC) and many other digital tokens. 

During a ‘Special Meeting’ organized by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), Svetlana Martynova, the Countering Financing of Terrorism Coordinator at the United Nations (UN) opined that terrorist especially those on financial sanctions have turned to cryptocurrency to perpetrate their illicit affairs. However, it was been reported that crypto contributes almost nothing to financing terrorist activities.

According to Chainalysis, only a small portion of cryptocurrencies are used for such operations.