AP Photo/Mucahid Yapici
Turkey Istanbul

Turkey’s government-affiliated Daily Sabah newspaper reported that the country’s intelligence agency detained 44 suspects, arresting seven of them.

By United with Israel Staff

Earlier this week, several Turkish nationals were arrested in Istanbul on suspicion of spying on Palestinians.

According to Turkish media sources cited by Times of Israel, authorities in Turkey arrested the men and accused them of espionage activities on behalf of Israel’s primary foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad.

Turkey’s government-affiliated Daily Sabah newspaper reported that the country’s intelligence organization detained 44 suspects, arresting seven of them.

The suspects were reportedly Turkish private detectives who surveilled Palestinians studying in Turkey, transferring intelligence to the Mossad. Some of the Palestinian subjects of surveillance are involved in “fields related to security and weapons production,” reported the Times.

No Israelis were arrested during the raids in Istanbul this week. Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not comment on the incident.

Currently, the Palestinian terror group Hamas maintains an office in Istanbul, from which it oversees terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians in the Jewish state. Israel has demanded Turkey shut down the office, but it remains open.

In April 2022, however, reports surfaces that Turkey has been quietly deporting Hamas members in a process underway for several months, according to Israel Hayom and Arab media reports.

For years, Israel has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of harboring Hamas operatives and allowing them to plan terror and cyber attacks and launder money from Turkish soil.

Israel has also accused Erdogan of providing Turkish citizenship and passports to key Hamas figures.

Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar daily first reported that a number of Hamas operatives who traveled abroad have not been allowed to return to Turkey.

A Palestinian official told Israel Hayom, “Dozens of people identified with Hamas in various circles have been deported.”

Noting that there was “nothing random about Turkey’s decision,” the official added, “Turkey asked them to leave, and it actually happened in the last few months. Some of the people with ties to Hamas’ military wing have been deported.”

The official also said the deportations came at the request of Israel.

“The Israelis gave Turkey a list of Hamas members and information about involvement of some of them in ‘military’ activity,” he said. “In response, the Turks contacted Hamas and told them, ‘You promised you wouldn’t do anything like that here, so now you need to leave.'”

The official also said that Ankara notified Hamas leaders that the decision was influenced by Turkey’s “economic interests.”

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