Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal [File].
(photo credit: YASIN BULBUL / TURKISH PRIME MINISTER OFFICE / AFP)
Western intelligence sources asses to a very high degree of likelihood that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has officially requested from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to allow top Hamas operative Salah Aruri to return to Turkey. The sources added that they believe, relying on Intelligence, that Erdogan will turn down the request due to US pressure on Ankara.
Hamas operative Salah Aruri.(Photo: JAMAL ARURI / AFP)
The two leaders discussed the matter in a bilateral meeting that was conducted Wednesday in Ankara. The intelligence sources added that Hamas wants master terrorist Aruri to continue directing terror in the West Bank from Turkish soil.
Channel 10 reported earlier this month that the Turkish government ordered Aruri, whom Israel accuses of organizing terrorist attacks in the West Bank, to leave the country.
Aruri, a top Hamas operative who was released from an Israeli prison a few years ago, is in charge of rebuilding the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank a year after Israeli security forces dismantled it prior to the war in Gaza.
According to Channel 10, the Ankara government, which has been sympathetic to Islamist organizations like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, agreed to Aruri's ouster, which was one of the prerequisites for Turkey's entry into the Western coalition against the Islamic State.
In recent months, Israeli officials approached Turkey and, despite the bitter relations between the two countries, asked Ankara to crack down on Hamas operatives there.
Aruri first came into the Israeli public's consciousness last year when he admitted that Hamas' armed wing, the Kassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Nafatli Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in the West Bank.
He made the comments during a conference of Islamic clerics in Turkey. He praised the "heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron."