ANKARA—Turkey has given passports to a dozen Hamas terrorists in Istanbul, a senior Israeli diplomat said on Wednesday, describing the move as “a very unfriendly step” which his government would raise with Turkish officials.
Speaking days after Turkeys president met visiting Hamas leaders, charge daffaires Roey Gilad said Israel had already told Turkey last year that Hamas was carrying out “terror-related activity” in Istanbul, but Turkey had not taken action.
The two countries have had a bitter falling out in recent years, despite strong commercial ties, expelling ambassadors in 2018. President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly condemned Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank.
Gilad said Israel had proof that Turkey was providing passports and identity cards to members of Hamas, which runs Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, and the European Union.
“Some are in the process, some already got (the documents), but we are talking about around a dozen,” he said.
“We have already one document that we will present to the government in copy,” he said. “Judging by the last experience we had by presenting a well-based portfolio to the government … and getting no reply, I must say I dont have high hopes that something will be done this time.”
Turkeys Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Saturday, Erdogan hosted Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and other officials in Istanbul for the second time this year, prompting objections from Washington, which linked one of the men to terrorist attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings. Ankara said it rejected the U.S. criticism.
Gilad said the Hamas members who received Turkish documents were financing and organizing terrorism from Istanbul, which Turkey has previously denied. Many of them came to Turkey under a 2011 deal between Turkey and Israel to exchange a captured Israeli soldier for more than 1,000 prisoners, Gilad said.Read More – Source