JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Turkish government has allowed Hamas members to use the country as a safe haven from which to plan attacks against Israelis.
The Daily Telegraph cited transcripts of Israeli interrogations of suspected Palestinian terrorists in its report Tuesday.
Not only do Hamas members have free rein to travel around the territory of the NATO member and ostensible U.S. ally, the British newspaper said, but that they are in regular contact with representatives of the Turkish intelligence community.
According to the report, Ankara has allowed the group to operate on Turkish soil despite previously agreeing to curtail its activities. Among its members living there are senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri, on whom the U.S. has placed a $5 million bounty, and Abdel Rahman Ghanimat, who was responsible for a wave of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
A Turkish “diplomatic source” who spoke with the paper said that Hamas was “not a terrorist organisation” and condemned Jerusalem’s “baseless allegations.”
One plot hatched in Turkey would have seen a Palestinian man assassinate former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. The would-be perpetrator, Adham Muselmani, was later arrested by the Israeli Security Agency, or Shin Bet.
In response to The Telegraph report, Barkat called on the United States to sanction Turkey, calling it a “terror-supporting regime just like Iran.”
According to a German government document that was leaked to the media in 2016, Turkey has been bankrolling Hamas, which it does not consider a terrorist group despite its classification as such by the United States and the European Union, as well as Egypt.
Tuesday’s report came only days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul and promised to “keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine.”
Amnesty International has accused Turkey of committing war crimes during its recent incursion into northern Syria.