Hamas does not run military operations from Turkey, a senior Istanbul-based official of the Islamic terror group asserted on Monday, rebuffing Israeli claims and accusing Jerusalem of entrapping Palestinians wishing to carry out armed operations in the West Bank.
Saleh al-Arouri has been accused by Israel of masterminding a series of attacks against Israeli civilians, including the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers south of Jerusalem in June, and funding terror cells in the West Bank and Jordan.
In an interview with Hamas website Al-Resalah, Arouri said Israel was accusing Turkey of hosting terrorists merely in order to embarrass it internationally.
“We explained to the [Turks] that this policy is only intended to pressure Turkey, and that we know how to behave with this supportive country in a manner that will not embarrass it,” Arouri told Al-Resalah. “There is no organization that directs military action in Palestine on Turkish soil.”
Arouri’s comments echoed statements by Turkish officials, who in late November called the Israeli allegations of Hamas activity in the country “lies and deceit.”
Israel was attempting to sow fear and mistrust among Hamas supporters in the West Bank by spreading rumors of the organization’s dysfunction, he said.
“The occupation wishes to harm mutual trust between people by claiming that its exposure of many [Hamas] groups before they act indicates a deficiency in the activities of the Resistance,” Arouri argued. “Thus, security hysteria thrives, as does doubt between members of the Resistance.”
Arouri said that Israel often tries to entrap Hamas-supporters in the West Bank by sending them people claiming to work for him abroad. Israel also tries to entice Palestinian prisoners to admit ties with Arouri, in order to build a case against Turkey with NATO, he said.
“The Turkish leadership is brave and knows how do adopt practical positions that coincide with its principles and convictions,” Arouri added. “It is not embarrassed to meet with Hamas leaders publicly.”