Israel Confiscates Cryptocurrency Allegedly Used for Funding Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard
Israel has seized millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency allegedly used to finance the Iran-backed militant groups.
In a Tuesday announcement, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he had spearheaded the operation and ordered the confiscation of cryptocurrency wallets involved in these financing schemes, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The wallets had sent and received funds from Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon and the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force.
The seized funds will be turned over to the Israeli government.
Gallant described the operation as "extensive" and stated that it marks Israel's first direct targeting of Hezbollah and the Quds Force.
Both organizations have long been designated as terrorist groups by the United States and other governments, and are consequently barred from accessing traditional global financial systems.
The operation was a multi-agency effort, involving Israel's renowned Mossad spy agency, military intelligence, police, and other relevant entities, Gallant detailed.
Israel Continues to Confiscate Crypto Believed to Blong to Militant Groups
This is not the first time that Israel has seized cryptocurrency connected to terrorist financing investigations.
Previously, the Israeli government confiscated a significant amount of cryptocurrency linked to the paramilitary arm of Hamas, which rules Gaza.
In December last year, a Tel Aviv court issued a ruling allowing Israel's government to seize all the crypto in over 150 digital wallets that it had blacklisted for allegedly funding terrorist groups.
At the time, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the authorities seized $33,500 from digital wallets linked to the militant group Hamas.
However, Gallant highlighted that this recent operation is of a much larger scale and significance, effectively cutting off the flow of terror funds through this particular channel.
Gallant further alleged that both Hezbollah and the Quds Force heavily rely on virtual currencies to finance their militant activities.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are favored for illicit transactions due to their perceived difficulty to trace. Bitcoin accounts can be created anonymously, allowing individuals to receive digital funds without disclosing personal information.
However, courtesy of blockchain technology, crypto transactions are usually public and can be traced.
In fact, for this reason, the military arm of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced that it will stop accepting donations in Bitcoin.
The group said it would halt donations via BTC for "the safety of the donors [...] especially in light of the intensification of the prosecution and the doubling of the hostile effort against anyone who tries to support the resistance through this currency."
Moreover, countries like Iran, which face American sanctions, have been actively exploring the creation of their own cryptocurrencies to bypass financial restrictions.
In August last year, the country even passed a bill authorizing trade transactions with cryptocurrencies, officially approving the use of digital assets for imports.