Turkish court rules to formally arrest 15 people suspected of ties to Mossad

Eight others ordered deported, days after authorities in Turkey detained 34 suspects and warned Israel of ‘serious consequences’ if it goes after Hamas members overseas

Turkey’s national intelligence organization MIT releases footage of its arrest of alleged Mossad spies on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Turkey’s national intelligence organization MIT releases footage of its arrest of alleged Mossad spies on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

ISTANBUL – A Turkish court decided on Friday to formally arrest 15 people and deport eight others suspected of being linked to the Mossad intelligence service and of targeting Palestinians living in Turkey, according to state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Turkish authorities detained 34 people earlier this week after warning Israel of “serious consequences” if it tried to hunt down members of the terror group Hamas living outside Palestinian territories, including in Turkey.

TRT Haber’s story provided no details about what the court decided for the remaining 11 people who were initially detained.

Turkey, unlike most of its Western allies and some Arab nations, does not classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Police raided locations in eight provinces to capture the suspects as part of the investigation carried out by the MIT intelligence agency and the Istanbul prosecutor’s counter-terrorism bureau.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the arrests.

This handout photograph taken and released by the Turkish Presidency Press Office on July 26, 2023, shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) welcoming the leader of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (R), during their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (Mustafa Kamaci/Turkish Presidency Press Office/AFP, File)

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel’s intelligence agencies were working to assassinate Hamas leaders across the Middle East, including in Turkey, as its forces battle the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

Days later, Israeli media released recordings of Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar saying that Israel is determined to kill Hamas’s leaders “in every location” in the world, including Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon.

In response, Ankara warned Israel that it will face “serious consequences” if it tries to assassinate Hamas members on Turkish soil.

Since December 2022, the MIT and Istanbul police have announced three operations uncovering Mossad cells in the country. The most recent was in July of last year, when Turkey announced it had arrested seven Arabs working for the Mossad intelligence agency on targets in Lebanon and Syria.

Following a period of steady rapprochement between the two eastern Mediterranean powers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a series of scathing broadsides against the Jewish state since Israel launched its war on Hamas after the October 7 atrocities. He has called Hamas “freedom fighters,” referred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “the butcher of Gaza,” and branded Israel a “terror state.”

Erdogan has also been in close contact with the Hamas leadership since the start of the war, and Turkey has maintained deep ties with the terror group over the years, allowing it to operate from an office in Istanbul for over a decade.

War erupted on October 7 when some 3,000 terrorists led by Hamas burst through the border from the Gaza Strip and rampaged through southern Israel, slaughtering over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid brutal atrocities. At least 240 people of all ages, including small children and the elderly, were abducted and taken hostage in Gaza.

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