Turkish-backed groups in Libya smuggling arms to Hamas – report

Libyan militias funded by Iran, Qatar, and Turkey are helping armed Palestinian group Hamas circumvent Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, the National Interest said on Thursday.

Tensions over the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem escalated into 11 days of clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters in the Gaza strip earlier this month, leaving more than 250 dead.

Rockets used by Hamas to target Israeli cities during the violence were provided by Iran, the National Interest said, citing recent comments from an official of the Palestinian group published by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Hamas’ weapons may have originated from Libya, where both Iran and Turkey are backing Islamist groups involved in arms smuggling to the Gaza strip, the U.S. magazine said.  

Turkey has intervened in Libya to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, deploying armed drones and Syrian mercenary fighters to the country.

Libyan intelligence officers have accused both Turkey and Iran of seeking to use lawlessness in the country as “a platform to fund Hamas’ terror platform in Gaza”, the National Interest said.

Beyond Libya, Turkey had also been involved in financing Hamas directly, including through Istanbul-based bank Kuveyt Turk, the U.S. magazine added.  

Kuveyt Turk, which is part-owned by the Turkish state, was sued by U.S. law firms in September 2019 for allegedly aiding and abetting the Palestinian group, which is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union.

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