Turkey gave Hamas members passports, says senior Israeli diplomat

The Turkish government has given passports to a dozen members of the Palestinian jihadist group Hamas in Istanbul, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a senior Israeli diplomat.

The Israeli government will raise this “very unfriendly step” with Turkish officials, who received a warning from Israel on Hamas’ “terror-related activity” in Istanbul last year, Roey Gilad, charge d’affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Turkey said.

Gilad’s statements arrive days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted a large delegation of Hamas officials in Istanbul, in a move that has been met with condemnation by Israel and the United States.

Israel has proof that Turkey provided passports and identity cards to members of Hamas, an Islamist political organisation and militant group that has waged war on Israel since 1987, the diplomat said. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Israel and European Union.

“Some are in the process, some already got (the documents), but we are talking about around a dozen,” Gilad said. “We have already one document that we will present to the government in copy.”

Gilad said he does not have high hopes of hearing from the Turkish government, based on a lack of response to comprehensive portfolios previously submitted to Ankara. 

The passport and I.D. card recipient Hamas members - many of whom arrived in Turkey under a 2011 deal between Turkey and Israel - are financing and organising terrorism from Istanbul, Gilad said.

Turkey-Israel relations deteriorated sharply in 2010 following Israel’s violent raid on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara, in which 10 people were killed. The incident dealt a serious blow to the two countries’ bilateral ties, leading to the recalling of diplomatic envoys on both sides.

Erdoğan has repeatedly condemned Israel’s West Bank occupation and treatment of Palestinians and accused the Israeli state of genocide against Palestinians.

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