The Road to October 7: The Turkey-Hamas Connection

Erdogan advanced Turkey-Hamas ties (Archive: Pixabay)

Turkey has been a key Hamas ally for years, providing vital political backing, a financial hub, and a platform for the terror group’s activities. As it turned out, this alliance had far-reaching implications, helping Hamas build a massive terror apparatus and perpetrate mass slaughter of Israelis on October 7.

Notably, Turkey has been serving as a central hub of Hamas business activity. According to information revealed previously, the Gaza terror group acquired dozens of Turkish companies and received further assistance from Turkey’s government.

Overall, Hamas earned an estimated $100M annually from these activities, helping finance its terror machine [more details here]. However, the Turkish connection to Hamas goes well beyond financial support.

In July 2023, Israel intercepted 16 tons of explosive material shipped from Turkey to Gaza. In March, the Shin Bet security agency busted a Turkey-based Hamas network planning attacks in Israel.

It is not clear if Turkish officials were involved in or aware of these terror activities. However, there is no question that Ankara and Hamas engaged in high-level contacts for years.

Erdogan meets terror chiefs

Back in 2020, Turkish President Erdogan hosted a Hamas delegation comprising some key terror leaders. This included Saleh al-Arouri, a senior military commander intimately involved in designing Hamas operations.

Hamas later praised the session, claiming that it featured a briefing on various political issues. However, behind the scenes the sides likely discussed some sensitive topics and sinister plans.

Erdogan also met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a session attended by Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s intelligence chief. The presence of Fidan, known as a strong Hamas supporter, suggests that the meeting addressed important matters pertaining to Hamas activities.

The above meetings were publicized, but other Turkey-Hamas contacts likely remained hushed. However, the Turkish government also allegedly provided Hamas with valuable operational tools.

Hamas gets Turkish passports

According to a British news report, Ankara granted Turkish citizenship to senior Hamas members. Such logistic support from a state actor would enable terror operatives to travel more freely and advance Hamas activities worldwide.

According to the report, some Hamas terrorists have been using Turkish aliases. These would have made it even harder to trace them and monitor their actions.

An unnamed source said that the Hamas members in question were senior figures involved in fund-raising and directing terror operations.

An Israeli diplomat subsequently confirmed that Turkey issued passports for more than 10 Hamas terrorists in Istanbul.

Hunting Hamas in Turkey?

The close Turkey-Hamas relationship was raising serious concerns in Israel for some time. Intelligence officials saw this as well as Ankara’s other anti-Israel activities as a major problem.

In parallel, the IDF warned that Turkey was posing a challenge to Israel’s security. However, Jerusalem apparently failed to take strong action to disrupt the troubling Turkey-Hamas connection.

As it turned out, Ankara’s collaboration with Hamas posed a more immediate threat to Israelis than anticipated. Now, in the wake of the October 7 atrocities, Israel’s attitude to Hamas activity in Turkey may change.

According to Kan News, Shin Bet Director Tomer Bar made clear that Israel will hunt Hamas leaders worldwide, even in Turkey. A follow-up report said that Turkish intel officials warned Israel that assassinations on Turkish soil will carry grave repercussions.

At this time, it is difficult to evaluate whether Mossad intends to take action against Hamas in Turkey. But as Israel moves to eradicate the Hamas threat, Jerusalem will have to make some hard decisions about its relations with Ankara.