The IDF Prosecution filed an indictment in the Samaria Military Court on Sunday against a Turkish woman for smuggling funds to Hamas during trips to Israel and the West Bank.
Ebru Ozkan, 27, was arrested by police at Ben-Gurion Airport on June 11 and transferred to authorities on suspicion of endangering state security and for contacting terrorist organizations.
Though she is a Turkish citizen and has no residency in the West Bank, she is being tried in the Samaria Military Court because her alleged crimes impacted that region, The Jerusalem Post
obtained a copy of the indictment, which states that most of Ozkan’s contacts with members of Hamas started with various Hamas operatives she came into contact with at the Ru’a’a Center where she worked.
In one instance, the indictment stated that Hamas operative Abd al-tif Sada allegedly guided her about smuggling items for Hamas through airport security, advising her to place the items in her checked luggage and not in her carry- on.
Sada also instructed her to deny knowledge of the items or to claim she purchased them in Turkey in the event that they were uncovered.
Further, he told her that when she gave them over to the Hamas operative from the West Bank, she should use the code phrase, “These are the chocolates from your friend who you gave money to,” in order to make sure both sides could trust each other.
The indictment alleged that these and other events, such as meeting in hidden and suspicious places, and learning that Sada was working with members of Hamas, made it clear to Ozkan that she was aiding Hamas.
Ozkan’s lawyer, Omar Khamaysa, told Haaretz
that Ozkan was asked by a friend in Istanbul to deliver $500 to a Palestinian relative.
According to the report, the same friend had previously asked Ozkan to transfer a cell phone charger to a different individual who was a Hamas member.
Khamaysa told Haaretz
that Ozkan did not know that the people were Hamas members.
Her case has garnered a lot of media attention in Turkey, and activists from several NGOs have staged a protest in Istanbul’s Taskim district. According to Turkey’s Daily Sabah news agency, protesters called for her immediate release and a formal apology.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that Ankara would “respond” to her arrest and that normalization between the two countries would only occur once Israel stops its “inhumane, wrong policies.”
“For genuine normalization of our relations, Israel should end its wrong policies and its inhumane cruelty. We are aware of their treatment towards some Turkish citizens. Lately, they extended the detention of our sister Ebru Ozkan,” Cavusoglu said.
“They should not force us to take a step to counter it. We will not exert pressure on civilians but if Israel takes steps to deter our citizens from visiting Jerusalem, we will give a response to them. Our relations will only normalize once Israel ends these inhumane, wrong policies.”
The fragile relations between Israel and Turkey have been increasingly strained in recent months as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal critic of the Jewish state’s policy toward the Palestinians, has intensified his rhetoric.
Following May clashes on the Gaza-Israel border fence, which left more than 60 Palestinians dead, both Ankara and Jerusalem publicly humiliated each other’s envoys after they were recalled to their respective countries.
Israel has arrested several Turkish citizens in the past year on security-related offenses.
In January Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish citizen and a law lecturer, was arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) just before he was due to board a plane at Ben-Gurion Airport on suspicion of laundering money to Hamas members doing business in Turkey. He was deported on February 11.
According to the Shin Bet, the operatives that Tekeli helped, most of whom were released during the Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange deal, were all involved in terror attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of Israelis.
In an interview with Anadolu shortly after he returned to Turkey, Tekeli accused Israel of torturing and drugging him during his month-long detention.
Another Turkish national, Osman Hazir, was also arrested in January after he took a selfie while holding a Turkish flag at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. A month prior, three other Turkish nationals, Abdullah Kizilirmak, Mehmet Gargili Adem Koc, were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and taking part in an illegal rally on the Temple Mount compound. All three were later released on bail.