Turkey was deliberately chosen as the site of the meeting, as it was deemed safe enough for the leaders to meet there.
At the head of the meeting were Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas Saleh al-Arouri, who attended from his residence in Beirut, and former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, who lives in the Qatari capital, Doha. Several other senior Hamas officials attended, according to KAN.
Turkey was deliberately chosen as the site of the meeting, as it was deemed safe enough for the leaders to meet there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continually used anti-Israel rhetoric since the start of the Israel-Hamas War, declaring Israel guilty of war crimes.
The meeting was held to coordinate Hamas’s next steps in the current conflict with Israel, which began on October 7 after hundreds of Hamas terrorists broke through the border and went on a murderous rampage across IDF bases and Israeli border communities, killing 1,200 and kidnapping almost 250 people.
Hamas leaders have yet to determine their next steps in the war, both within Gaza itself and the role of Iran-proxy group Hezbollah in Lebanon, but KAN reported that another hostage-prisoner deal may be on the table. On Sunday night, Egyptian officials stated that Israel and Hamas are both open to a renewed ceasefire and hostage release, although disagreements remain on how it would be implemented.
The Hamas leadership chose to hold their secret meeting in a third country abroad and not by technological means, such as a video conference or an encrypted phone call, to allow everyone to sit and speak together in a secure environment to prevent Israeli intelligence from infiltrating.
Turkey warns of ‘serious consequences’
Earlier this month, Turkey warned Israel of “serious consequences” if it tries to hunt down Hamas members living outside Palestinian territories, including in Turkey, a Turkish intelligence official said. This came in response to a recording of Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, stating that Israel would hunt down Hamas leaders in Lebanon, Turkey, and Qatar, even if it takes years.
The same day, Erdogan claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be tried as a war criminal over Israel’s offensive in Gaza, referring to the Likud party leader as the “butcher of Gaza.”
In a speech at a meeting of an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee in Istanbul in early December, Erdogan said that Gaza is Palestinian land and will always belong to the Palestinians.
“Israel is not only a murderer but also a thief,” Erdogan said, adding, “We cannot let Israel occupy Gaza once again.”
photo:Hamas leaders Saleh al-Arouri and Khaled Mashal