Israeli authorities seize crypto from terror organizations, credit new technology

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The Israeli ministries of defense and justice and a number of intelligence and enforcement agencies collaborated; Chainalysis also pitched in.

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Israel has seized crypto wallets containing millions of dollars intended to fund terror, the country’s National Bureau for Counter Terrorist Financing announced June 28. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant credited collaboration among the Israeli defense and justice ministries, Israeli intelligence and new technology for the operation, according to local media.

Speaking at a conference on June 27, Gallant said the operation concluded “a few days ago” and seized crypto that had been transferred to terrorist organization Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds Force. It was the largest seizure of cryptocurrency from those groups so far. “We have effectively cut off the flow of terror funds via this channel,” Gallant said. He added:

“In recent months, we have developed at the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing in the Ministry of Defense, in collaboration with intelligence and enforcement entities, […] new capabilities that have led to very significant achievements also on this battlefront.”

Gallant said Hezbollah, Quds and “Syrian elements” had been using crypto “to obtain […] funds from third parties, mainly money changers with whom they perpetrated unlawful transactions.”

Related: 2 key security practices for Web3 startups from Israel Crypto Conference

Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said in a blog post that Israeli authorities seized $1.7 million in the operation. “We’re proud to say that Chainalysis tools played a role in this landmark national security achievement,” it added.

The operation was not the first to tackle crypto financing. Palestinian Sunni organization Hamas announced in April that it would no longer accept donations in cryptocurrency, reversing a longtime policy, “out of concern about the safety of donors” after “intensification of hostile efforts against anyone who tries to support the resistance through this currency.”

Reuters reported a few days later that Israel had seized about 190 accounts on Binance linked to the Islamic State and Hamas since 2021. Binance said in a blog post that the Reuters report was “deliberately leaving out critical facts” in its coverage.

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