Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced on October 29 that he ordered the diplomatic representatives from Turkey to be returned to Israel due to President Erdogan’s statements against Israel following the war against Hamas.
According to him, Israel will reevaluate its relations with Turkey.
This is a message of declarative significance, Israel is outraged by the statements of the Turkish president who once again revealed his true face as an ardent supporter of the terrorist organization Hamas, Erdogan is the head of the “Justice and Development” party which is a branch of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement which is the parent movement of Hamas.
President Erdoğan ignored the terrible massacre committed by the Hamas organization in the Israeli settlements near the Gaza Strip on October 7 and said that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but a liberation movement that is waging a war to protect its land.”
Erdogan added that “we don’t have a problem with the State of Israel, but we have a problem with its policy regarding the Palestinians.
Israel took advantage of Turkey’s good intentions, I will not visit it as planned.”
In recent days there have been huge demonstrations in Turkey in support of Hamas and the Gaza Strip, videos have been circulated on social networks in which Turks are seen stepping on the Israeli flag.
The Israeli embassy in Ankara was evacuated immediately after the massacre by Hamas for fear of damage to the embassy employees by radical Muslims.
The Israeli mistake
Israel and Turkey announced last year a full normalization of their relations and the return of the ambassadors after 15 years of murky relations.
President Erdogan was also scheduled to visit Israel, for the first time since his last visit in May 2005.
Although he moderated his statements against Israel, due to considerations of political interests only, during Israel’s last round of combat against the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip in August 2022, he again called Israel a “child killer”.
It was possible to understand the motives of President Erdogan and his new strategy, he wanted to break the isolation of his country through renewed normalization with its old regional rivals: Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Turkish economy is in a difficult situation and Erdogan is trying to encourage foreign investment and tourism in his country.
The energy issue was also important in Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel, President Erdoğan expressed willingness to cooperate regarding the natural gas pipeline in the Mediterranean Sea, this is an important issue because European countries are trying to reduce their dependence on Russian natural gas against the background of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
As far as Israel is concerned, the full normalization with Turkey contributes to regional stability and the economy, the intelligence cooperation between the Israeli Mossad and the Turkish intelligence “MIT” which foiled concrete plans for attacks by the Iranian “Revolutionary Guards” on Israelis in Turkey undoubtedly contributed to the rapprochement between the two countries.
But it was a mistake, Israel was too quick to go back and hug Erdogan, a supporter of the terrorist organization Hamas, who proved that he is worse than ISIS.
President Erdogan has steadfastly refused for more than 10 years to close the offices of the military wing of Hamas in Istanbul that direct terrorist actions against Israel.
The Foreign Ministry said at the time that Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid rushed to agree to full normalization of relations with Turkey to show his “political achievement” before the Knesset elections in November.
According to diplomats at the Foreign Ministry, it was possible to exert more political pressure on Turkey to close the Hamas office in Istanbul.
Hamas branch in Istanbul
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh moved with his family members from the Gaza Strip to live in Istanbul more than a year ago.
He lives alternately in Turkey and Qatar.
The military wing of Hamas has a large office in Istanbul which is staffed, among other things, by “Shalit Deal” deportees who were deported from the territories abroad as part of the deal in 2011, part of their activity involves directing terrorist attacks in the West Bank and attempts to recruit into the ranks of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran students from among Israeli Arabs studying or Visitors to Turkey.
The London “Times” newspaper reported about two years ago, from international intelligence sources, that a secret Hamas unit also operates in Istanbul separately from the Hamas office, it is subordinate to the Hamas military wing and reports directly to senior Hamas official Samah Sarraj who receives instructions from Yichya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
More than two years ago, Hamas implicated Turkey in the case of laundering and smuggling money to the military wing in the Gaza Strip through 2 large money exchange offices in Istanbul.
As a result, a court in Saudi Arabia convicted about 60 Hamas operatives who were members of this network of money laundering and smuggling.
They were arrested on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after Israel and the United States provided Saudi intelligence with accurate information about their activities in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
They were sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years.
The person who is officially in charge of the Hamas office in Turkey is Saleh al-Arouri, number 2 in the organization who serves as the head of the military wing of Hamas in the West Bank and the contact person for Hezbollah and Iran, but it seems, according to sources in the Gaza Strip, that the secret branch in Istanbul is a personal project of Yichya Sinwar and he used it mainly for the purposes of the military wing in the Gaza Strip.
According to Hamas sources, the organization operates a sophisticated listening room in Istanbul for means of communication in Israel and provides intelligence to Hezbollah and Iran.
Security officials in Israel say that there is evidence that it was the Hamas branch in Turkey that recruited and armed Sheikh Fadi Abu Shahidim from the Shoafat refugee camp who murdered the late Israeli citizen Eliyahu Kay in the Old City of Jerusalem in November 2021.
According to sources in Hamas, after the renewed normalization with Israel, Erdogan conveyed messages to the leadership of Hamas that the new page he is opening with Israel does not constitute support for Israeli policy and its Zionism, his warm attitude towards the “resistance” movements will not change and he will not close down the offices of the military wing of Hamas in Istanbul despite Israel’s demand.
The time has come for Israel to sober up, President Erdogan is a lost cause and he will not change, he will continue to support Hamas, Israel must cool down relations with Turkey and preserve its honor and the honor of the Jewish people.
Erdogan continues to make the false claims that the Hamas operatives in the offices in Istanbul are only political operatives, despite the evidence that Israel has provided to Turkish intelligence that they are terrorist operatives.
Israel must take advantage of the international momentum against Hamas terrorism to put pressure on Turkey to close the offices of Hamas’ military wing in Istanbul.