Israel has approved the seizure of cryptocurrency accounts used by Hamas to raise money from international donors, Al Jazeera has reported.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered security forces to take control of the accounts after a joint operation "uncovered a web of electronic wallets" used by the movement to raise funds. The defence ministry claimed that Hamas has been conducting an online campaign to attract donations following Israel's 11-day military offensive against Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip in May.
"The intelligence, technological and legal tools that enable us to get our hands on terrorists' money around the world," said Gantz, "constitute an operational breakthrough, and enhance our ability to thwart terrorism anywhere, in any space and at any time."
Israel said that this was the first time that it has signed an administrative order to seize cryptocurrency funds from the resistance movement. In addition to Bitcoin, the ministry has seized payments made in other digital currencies, including XRP, Ethereum, Tether and joke crypto Dogecoin, in accordance with its 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law.
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency which does not have any physical form and is instead traded online. As the currency is difficult to trace it is sometimes used for illicit transactions. Although it is a legitimate resistance movement, Hamas is designated as a "terrorist" group in a number of countries around the world which accept Israel's colonial narrative.
The movement won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, since when the Gaza Strip has been besieged by Israel and its allies. The humanitarian catastrophe facing the Palestinian residents of Gaza, Hamas has pointed out, is caused by the Israeli occupation and the US-backed siege.
In a related news item, Al-Khaleej Online has reported that the economic losses incurred by Israel during the May military offensive against civilians in Gaza are estimated at $2.14 billion. The figure is an unofficial estimate, and is equivalent to about 0.5 per cent of Israel's gross domestic product.