REPORT: Turkey Gives Passports/Citizenship to Hamas Operatives Planning Terror Attacks

The British Telegraph news site reported that the Turkish government granted citizenship to senior Hamas operatives.

Ther Telegraph reported its reporter had seen Turkish identity papers issued to at least one of 12 senior Hamas operatives. At least seven of the operatives were granted citizenship and issued an 11-digit identity number and passports, while the five remaining Hamas operatives are in the process of receiving passports.  In some cases, the operatives are living under Turkish aliases. Turkish passports would allow the operatives to travel extensively around the world.

In a shocking revelation, the Telegraph reported that all of the 12 operatives were released and deported from Israel under the Shalit Deal of 2011, in which 1,027 mostly Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for an Israeli soldier. Two-hundred and eighty of these had been sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Israeli targets. Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was quoted in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Hayat as confirming that the prisoners released under the deal were collectively responsible for the killing of 569 Israelis. Gilad Shalit was the first captured Israeli soldier to be released alive in 26 years.

A senior source in the region explained the situation to the Telegraph.

“These are not foot soldiers but the most senior Hamas operatives outside of Gaza. [They] are actively raising funds and directing operatives to carry out attacks in the present day. The Turkish Government gave in to pressure by Hamas to grant citizenship to its operatives, thereby allowing them to travel more freely, endangering other countries that have listed Hamas as a terror group,” the source claimed.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas who is on the US terror list, is currently visiting Turkey, where met with senior figures including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by many countries around the world including the US, Israel, and the EU but Turkey claims that Hamas is a legitimate political organization, elected by the people of Gaza. Though Turkey is a NATO member and, as such, an ally of the US, its status in the organization has been questioned following its purchase of Russian military hardware including the S-400 anti-air system.

The meetings were firmly criticized by the Trump administration.

“President Erdogan’s continued outreach to this terrorist organization only serves to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people, and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza,” a State Department statement said Tuesday.

Turkey refuted the US criticism.

“Declaring the legitimate representative of Hamas, who came to power after winning democratic elections in Gaza and is an important reality of the region, as a terrorist will not be of any contribution to efforts for peace and stability in the region,” its foreign ministry said.

This is the second time since February Turkey has played host to Hamas leaders, the United States says.

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