(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli officials used diplomatic language on Thursday when responding to revelations that the Hamas cell uncovered in the West Bank received orders and training from operatives in Turkey, but this belied anger that Hamas has apparently moved the center of its overseas operations from Syria to Turkey.
Following Thursday’s revelations that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and IDF thwarted the Hamas cell that had its nerve center headquartered in Turkey, one official said in response, “Is this the sort of thing that one expects from a NATO state?” The official said this was the second time this year the Shin Bet uncovered a Hamas cell in the West Bank with ties to Turkey, the first instance being in the summer when a Hamas plot to overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was uncovered.
The official said that the Turkish link will come up in diplomatic and counter-terrorism dialogues Israel is set to have with various different countries, including NATO members.
Another government official characterized as “most regrettable” that a NATO member state harbored people who prepared and trained for terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, praised the Shin Bet for uncovering the planned attack, but pointedly refrained from making any reference to the Turkish connection. Israel’s reticence to publicly point a finger at Turkey stems from not wanting to open up a new “front” with Turkey, with whom relations have nosedived since the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla raid.
Israel Hayom reported earlier this week that Israel was livid over Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey and had urged NATO to take action against Ankara over the matter. The paper said that Jerusalem had formally sent messages to NATO through several channels saying it was inconceivable that a NATO member country would maintain ties with a terrorist organization.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon raised the issue during a meeting with outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel when they met in Washington last month.