Despite normalizing relations with Israel in recent years, Turkey has supported the terrorist organization Hamas, funneling funds to Hamas through its banks, hosting meetings with Hamas leaders, and issuing Turkish passports to Hamas leaders.
“The origin of this shipment cannot be ignored. Turkey has become a major sponsor of Hamas in recent years and a major hub of Hamas operations. Did the government in Ankara know about this effort to arm the terrorist group with 16 tons of explosive material? This is a crucial question to answer for Israel but also for the United States and many of Turkey’s other NATO allies.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research
“The seizure of 16 tons of raw materials, intended to be used by Hamas for the construction of rockets, once again underscores Turkey’s insincere commitment to antiterrorism. On the one hand, Ankara declares its desire to ‘normalize’ ties with Israel, while on the other, it continues to support a major terrorist entity that is focused on undermining the very existence of Israel. Erdogan’s government remains a primary source of support for Hamas and other jihadist entities throughout the region.” — Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow
Haven for Hamas
The relationship between Turkey and Israel, once allies, chilled after the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza. Ankara formally broke diplomatic ties in September 2011 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s then prime minister, personally greenlit a flotilla of ships to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza, leading to a deadly incident with Israeli forces in May 2010. Turkey has been a haven for Hamas since it established a headquarters in Istanbul in 2014. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh lives part-time in Turkey, and he and his son hold Turkish passports. Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’ West Bank chief, is also based in Istanbul. Al-Arouri is a U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.
Hamas Smuggling is a Major Problem
Jerusalem’s interception of rocket-making material comes after Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza on September 10. Israel closed the crossing — the sole entry point for goods between Gaza and Israel — on September 4, after IDF soldiers discovered high-quality explosive material concealed inside clothes in three trucks. Hamas is known to redirect dual-use goods intended for its civilian population for military purposes, such as commandeering cement intended for civilian construction projects to build its terror tunn