Hamas operatives use Turkish soil as a safe haven to operate and plan terror attacks on Israel with the support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a report in The Telegraph on Tuesday night.
Hamas terror suspects arrested by Israel revealed incriminating information during interrogations by Israel Police. Suspects confessed that Hamas operatives in Turkey control activities in Jerusalem and Yehudah and Shomron and plan attacks, including a failed plan to assassinate former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat or other senior political figures earlier this year. The plot was thwarted by Israeli security officials.
Transcripts of Israel Police interrogations with suspects show that senior Hamas terrorists are in Istanbul plotting attacks to be perpetrated in Jerusalem as well as areas of Yehuda and Shomron.
The report added that a dozen Hamas officials have moved from Gaza and taken up residence in Istanbul in the past year, including the former leader of the “Surif Cell” – Abdel Rahman Ghanimat, according to Israeli and Egyptian intelligence. The “Surif Cell” was a Hamas cell that perpetrated a series of suicide bombings in Israel in the 1990s.
The Telegraph report revealed that Israel has repeatedly informed Erdogan that Hamas plans attacks on Israel from Istanbul. Erdoğan’s reaction? “We will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine.”
The transcripts obtained were of Israel Police’s interrogation of Hamas terrorist Adham Muselmani and others, who were involved in the terrorist attacks.
The Telegraph adds that the United States has placed a large bounty on some of the Hamas terrorists operating in Istanbul, including $5 million on Hamas Deputy Commander Saleh al-Arouri.
One of the Hamas terrorists who relocated from Gaza to Turkey is Abdel Rahman Ghanimat, the former leader of the ‘Tzurif Cell’, which is responsible for a series of suicide bombings, including a 1997 attack on the Café Apropos in Tel Aviv which killed three young women.
Hamas, branded as a terrorist organization not only by the US and EU but even in some Arab countries, is warmly embraced by Erdoğan, who met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul on Saturday.
Hamas first began using Istanbul as a base for its operations in 2011, after it was expelled from Damascus when the Syrian civil war was in its infancy. And despite Turkey’s agreement in an US-led deal in 2015 to prevent Hamas from plotting attacks in Israel from Turkish soil, Erdogan consistently turns a blind eye to Hamas’ activities.
Turkish and Hamas officials denied the report, with a Turkish diplomat saying Hamas is a legitimate Palestinian political party and “not a terrorist organization.”
“Hamas’s resistance activities are conducted only in the land of occupied Palestine,” a Hamas spokesman said.
Barkat tweeted that he has been in contact with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and tweets the ambassador is continuing efforts towards imposing international sanctions against Turkey.
While once upon a time Turkey was a strategic ally with Israel, so much so the two countries carried out joint military operations, today, Erdogan and others prefer to align with Islamic fundamentalism, having gone from a secular nation to an increasingly religious one, with all that entails. Many Israelis continue to view Turkey as a viable vacation venue, but Turkey’s vehemently anti-Israeli position has led to many seeking an alternative vacation venue.
שוב קיבלנו אישור לכך שטורקיה נותנת בית חם לארגוני טרור ותומכת בהם, בדיוק כמו איראן. דבר לא ירתיע או יעצור אותי בעשייה למען מדינת ישראל.
דיברתי עם השגריר @USAmbIsrael ובכוונתי להמשיך לפעול כדי שארה״ב תנקוט סנקציות בינלאומיות נגד טורקיה. pic.twitter.com/nifyPkKjn0
— ניר ברקת (@NirBarkat) December 18, 2019
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)