Hamas denies Israeli media claims about Hamas-Turkish relations

Palestine Islamic Resistance Movement has strongly denied, in a statement issued Monday, Haaretz’s media reports about Hamas-Turkish relations.

A senior Hamas official on Monday strongly denied Israeli claims that Turkey has imposed restrictions on leaders of the Islamic movement.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem reiterated that the paper’s claims that Türkiye “has imposed restrictions on leaders of Hamas living there are lies and fabrications disseminated to defame the movement and its leadership.”

“Hamas has and seeks to develop and build good relations with the Republic of Turkey and with all Arab and Islamic countries,” Qassem confirmed.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli outlet Haaretz alleged that Türkiye has been tightening its restrictions on Hamas’ leadership and activists living in the country in a response to Israel’s request to undermine the existence of Hamas on Turkish lands.

“From time to time, Israel seeks to focus on its relationships with Turkey to pressure Turkish authorities to end their [relationship] with Hamas, which has dozens of leaders and activists living in its lands,” the official of Hamas said, according to the New Arab news website.

The Istanbul-based official further asserts that officials at the Turkish intelligence “held a meeting with us (at the political level of Hamas) and informed us that Israel requested them to end our existence in Turkey… They (Turkish officials) asked us to decrease our media statements against Israel.”

“We decided to decrease our activities in Turkey in a bid to protect its interests, mainly as Israel will do its best to blackmail the Turkish officials to expel Hamas from the territory,” the official noted.

“We are doing our best to keep our relations with Turkey, primarily as it supports the Palestinian right in resisting the Israeli occupation as well as all of its violations against our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” the official added.

“On various occasions, Turkey has expressed numerous serious and courageous positions against Israel’s ongoing violations of the Palestinians, so our mutual relations will not be lost even though it (Turkey) has re-normalised its ties with Israel,” according to the official.

So far, he elaborated, Ankara has not changed its position on the Palestinian cause and Hamas members can move freely in the territory.

In March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey for the first time after years of tension and met with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, amid an atmosphere of understanding on developing relations between the two countries.

Following their meeting, both presidents described their countries heading towards “a new turning point in relations based on common interests.”

Turkey and Israel were once close allies, but the relationship frayed under President Erdogan, who is an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said amounts to the crime of apartheid and crimes against humanity.

Turkey severed its relations with Israel after a fatal attack by Israeli commandos on a peace flotilla led by Turkish boats in international waters in 2010. The Israeli attack killed ten unarmed activists, many of whom were Turkish citizens.

As a result, stronger relations developed between Hamas and Turkey, in which the Turkish capital Ankara frequently hosted visits from Hamas leaders.

Turkey also allowed Hamas leaders to move freely on its territory after they left Syria in 2012.