Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri.
(photo credit: JAMAL ARURI / AFP)
The Turkish government has bowed to American pressure and ordered a senior Hamas official whom Israel accuses of organizing terrorist attacks in the West Bank to leave the country, Channel 10 is reporting on Friday.
Salah 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.
The London-based Arab-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi
quoted Hamas officials as denying an earlier Israeli report indicating that Aruri was asked to leave Turkey.
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."