The Shin Bet security service on Monday accused Turkey of aiding the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization raise and launder funds for its military activities against Israel, following the investigation of a Turkish national and an Arab Israeli citizen who were arrested in January.
“During the investigation, it became clear that Hamas is in direct contact with Turkish authorities,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Cemil Tekeli, the Turkish national, was recruited by Zaher Jabarin, a senior figure in Hamas responsible for its finances, who lives in Turkey, the security service said.
According to the security service, Tekeli is suspected of helping Hamas members set up businesses in Turkey, obtain visas to stay in the country, and acquire commercial properties, houses and cars.
The Arab Israeli suspect, Durgham Jabarin, a resident of the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, is suspected of transporting large sums of money — hundreds of thousands of euros — from Turkey to the West Bank on Hamas’s behalf, the Shin Bet said.
When Jabarin was arrested on January 21, security forces found 91,000 euros in his home, which the service said was due to be transfered to the West Bank.
He is due to be charged in the coming days, the Shin Bet said on Monday.
The security service said a number of other residents of the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm wre also detained in the case on the suspicion that they assisted Durgham.
According to the Shin Bet, the aforementioned activities “took place unhindered as Turkish officials turn a blind eye and — on occasion — encourage it, and with the assistance of Turkish nationals, some of whom are close to the government.”
The security service also said that Tekeli revealed in his interrogation that money and materiel was given to Hamas through the SADAT company, which was established by Adnan Basha, who is closely connected to Turkish administration officials.
“One of its employees even helped senior Hamas officials to visit a 2015 weapons show in Turkey, during which they expressed interest in UAVs,” the Shin Bet said.
Zaher Jabarin, who recruited both Tekeli and Durgham Jabarin, was one of over a thousand convicted Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli prisons as part of a 2011 deal to secure the return of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Along with several other Shalit releasees, he later resettled in Turkey.
(Zaher and Durgham do not appear to be related. Jabarin is a common last name.)
“Investigation findings have revealed wide-ranging Hamas activity in money laundering in Turkey on instruction from Zaher Jabarin,” the Shin Bet said.
According to the security service, aspects of this operation were conducted through the IMES company, a real estate and tourism firm — not to be confused with the dried fruit and nut retailer of the same name.
“The investigation showed that Hamas members owned the IMES company, which served as a cover for the laundering of millions of US dollars that were transferred to the Gaza Strip and various countries,” the Shin Bet said.
Israel has a strained relationship with Turkey, owing to its vocal opposition to Israeli policies and apparent support for Palestinian terrorist groups.
The two countries cut ties in 2010 after Israeli forces raided a Turkish boat that was attempting to break the naval blockade Israel set up around the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas, which has called for Israel’s destruction, from importing weapons. In the ensuing melee, nine Turkish activists were killed and a number of Israeli soldiers were injured.
Israel and Turkey restored ties in June 2016, though tensions between the two remain.