Hamas says Turkey playing critical role in upholding Palestinian cause
Hamas said Turkey is playing a critical role in upholding the cause of Palestinians.
The group welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s continued backing of the Palestinian issue, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh told a Hamas-affiliated television station, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday.
Turkey’s close relationship with Hamas, the Islamist militant group governing the blockaded Palestinian territory of Gaza, is one of a string of issues that are contributing to ongoing tensions in Turkey-Israel relations.
The group which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and several European countries, maintains an Istanbul office. Israel has said a thaw in relations with Turkey would only be possible if it shut down the facility.
Haniyeh reiterated a call for Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying Hamas could no longer remain silent and would support any step to break the blockade, Anadolu said.
Turkey has been accused by Israeli officials of providing funds and citizenship to top Hamas officials. Despite Israel’s persistent complaints to Turkey to stop hosting them, it has refused to do so. Erdoğan also met with two Hamas leaders in Istanbul last year, a meeting that sparked condemnation from the United States.
Haniyeh also urged the Saudi government to release Palestinian prisoners, Anadolu said.