Turkey rejects Israeli claims it helped Hamas

Turkey rejects claims it helped Hamas as "incompatible with reality".

Contact Editor
Ben Ariel,

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

Turkey on Tuesday rejected Israel’s claims it had helped the Hamas terrorist organization to gain in military strength, calling them "incompatible with reality".

Turkey’s comments came a day after it was cleared for publication that the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police had arrested two men suspected of having recruited individuals for the Hamas terror organization and directing their activities from Turkey.

These include an Israeli citizen from Umm al-Fahm as well as Turkish national Cemil Tekeli, a lecturer in law.

The two are suspected of aiding Hamas through business platforms. Tekeli was arrested in January and later deported.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it rejected the allegations, describing the claim as "incompatible with reality and lacking in seriousness", according to AFP.

Alluding to the Israeli investigation into Tekeli, it said that Israel made the claims based on "statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances."

"It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardize the security of another country," said the foreign ministry in Ankara.

Shin Bet said that Hamas had laundered millions of dollars through Turkey.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, which said that Tekeli was a lecturer at Medeniyet University in Istanbul, reported he had now returned to Turkey after being freed by Israel on February 11.

Israel and Turkey signed a comprehensive reconciliation deal in 2016, ending a six-year diplomatic standoff following a violent encounter between Israeli soldiers and Islamist radicals on a ship attempting to break through the security blockade on Gaza.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continued to verbally attack Israel even after the agreement was signed.

Most recently, Erdogan described Israel as a "terrorist state" that kills children, to which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded, "I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people."

Before the reconciliation agreement with Israel was signed, Erdogan met with Khaled Mashaal, then head of the Hamas politburo. The Turkish president later said he consulted with Hamas before signing the agreement with Israel.