“Dozens of people identified with Hamas in various circles have been deported.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
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 on Tuesday 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.”
Months in the Making
Israel began ramping up pressure on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to shut down Hamas in November following a series of IDF raids on a Hamas terror network in Judea and Samaria.
Turkish media reported in February that Turkey has been secretly negotiating with several unspecified countries, possibly to find a new home for the Hamas operatives.
The report comes amidst thawing Israeli-Turkish ties over recent months. In March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey. It was the highest level Israeli visit since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Turkey in 2008.
The Turkish economy struggling with hyperinflation, which has been complicated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Israeli-Turkish rapprochement is driven in large part by Erdogan’s desire to bring Israeli natural gas to Europe.
Erdogan’s backing of Hamas stems from his support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist ideology of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Hamas is the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas relocated its offices from Damascus to Istanbul in 2014 during the Syrian Civil War. It’s widely believed that Hamas will shift its offices to either Beirut or Tehran.
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