Israel has for the first time seized cryptocurrency wallets tied to Iran’s Quds Force and Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror proxy, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant revealed on Tuesday.
The “extensive and precedent-setting” effort over the past week resulted in the confiscation of millions of dollars worth of digital currency earmarked for terrorism, Gallant said.
The Quds Force is the branch of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for external operations.
“Whoever finances terror or maintains economic ties to terror groups are targets, just like those directing terrorism,” Gallant said.
“There is a clear connection to terror that originates in Iran, which is the financier and purveyor of terrorism against Israel and many countries around the world, both directly and through its proxies,” he added.
The Quds Force, Hezbollah and Syrian groups have since the beginning of the year used cryptocurrency supplied by third parties to fund their activities, according to Gallant.
In April, Palestinian terrorist group Hamas announced it would stop receiving fundraising via the bitcoin cryptocurrency, citing “hostile” activity against donors, following Jerusalem’s seizure months earlier of numerous digital wallets linked to terrorism funding.
Although cryptocurrency is seen as providing anonymity, developments in technology have enabled authorities to identify those behind crypto transfers.
In December 2022, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court issued a ruling approving the Israeli government’s seizure of any and all cryptocurrency assets from digital wallets that have funded terrorism.
Israeli authorities had previously been allowed to seize only those digital assets used to directly finance terrorist activity, but not additional funds in the same wallets.