According to the British paper, “Transcripts of Israeli police interrogations with (terror) suspects show that senior Hamas operatives are using Turkey’s largest city (of Istanbul) to direct operations in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” including an assassination attempt on former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.” It further noted that “Israel has repeatedly told Turkey that Hamas is using its territory to plan attacks.”
Despite Jerusalem’s repeated warnings to Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted talks at his Istanbul palace with senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh on December 14, during which he pledged continuing support for the Jihadist organization and his “brothers in Palestine.” A follow-up statement by Hamas highlighted the close relations it holds with Turkey. Hamas, which openly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State by means of an armed struggle, further highlighted that Haniyeh and Erdogan “discussed some issues concerning the Palestinian cause, including the dangers posed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and Tukey’s role in support of Palestinian cause.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement came in response to a comment from its counterpart in Jerusalem, stressing that “Israel is extremely concerned that Turkey is allowing Hamas terrorists to operate from its territory, in planning and engaging in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.” Ankara rejected Jerusalem’s condemnation as “baseless allegations,” and insisted that that many countries maintain relations with Hamas and that the majority of the international community do not consider the Islamist group “to be a terrorist organization but a political reality which won the (Palestinian national) elections in Gaza back in 2006.”
Contrary to the Turkish position, the 28-member European Union have designated Hamas as a terror organization; as has the United States, which places a $5 million bounty on the head of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.