Turkey secretly moves to expel Hamas ‘military wing’ as Israel ramps up pressure

“Members holding military ranks will not remain in Turkey” and “will not receive military assistance.”

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is moving to expel members of Hamas’s “military wing” from Turkey, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily reported on Tuesday.

According to the paper, Turkey has been secretly negotiating with several unspecified countries, possibly to find a new home for the Hamas operatives.

Reporter Hande Firat wrote that Ankara has informed Hamas leaders that “members holding military ranks will not remain in Turkey” and “will not receive military assistance.”

The report implied that Hamas’s political activities in Turkey would continue.

Officials in Ankara did not deny or confirm the report.

Israel began ramping up pressure on Erdogan to shut down Hamas in November following a series of IDF raids on a Hamas terror cell in Judea and Samaria.

According to the Shin Bet security service, the cell was headed by Saleh Arouri, who lives in Turkey. Arouri serves as Hamas’ overall military commander for Judea and Samaria.

He reportedly masterminded the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in 2014, which escalated to a war with Gaza.

A separate terror attack linked to Turkey was the November murder of South African immigrant Eliyahu Kay in Jerusalem. The terrorist, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, was a Hamas-aligned teacher who repeatedly traveled to Turkey.

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Israeli officials say Shkhaydam received training during those visits. The family said he was visiting a son studying in a Turkish university.

The Hurriyet report comes amid Jerusalem’s confirmation that President Isaac Herzog will visit Turkey. Turkish media reports said the visit has been scheduled for March 9-10.

Herzog’s trip will be the first high level Israeli visit since President Shimon Peres visited Turkey in 2007.