Turkey Deputy PM claims Israel falsely accused local Turkish aid official

“A local TIKA official is under arrest on false accusations. The history will definitely remember who served human and who served hostility,” Hakan Cavusoglu reportedly said.

December 14, 2017 16:47
1 minute read.
Muhammad Murtaja

Muhammad Murtaja. (photo credit: SHIN BET,REUTERS)

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu claimed on Thursday that Israel made false allegations against an official of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

According to the Daily Sabah he made the comments at a plenary session of parliament.

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“A local TIKA official is under arrest [is Israel] on false accusations. The history will definitely remember who served humanity and who served hostility,” Cavusoglu said.

TIKA is a department of the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of development assistance that describes itself as an “implementing intermediary of Turkish foreign policy.”

In March The Jerusalem Post reported that Gaza resident Muhammad Murtaja had been arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and accused of “financing Hamas’s military wing.”

He was an employee of TIKA and was entering Israel via the Erez crossing from the northern Gaza Strip to receive vocational training when he was arrested.

Murtaja was working as the Gaza coordinator of TIKA. Murtaja had previously worked with the Turkish organization IHH which helped organize the 2010 Mavi Marmara protest flotilla. According to the March report about his arrest in February, he was also involved in Hamas terrorist training, exercises, manufacture of weapons and explosive devices, and digging attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel. He was accused by the Shin Bet of storing weapons as well.

Cavusoglu’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Israel over Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. At a summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel as a “terror state.” Cavusoglu has posted numerous times on Twitter in support of east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

TIKA says it has carried out 71 projects in east Jerusalem and the West Bank since 2005. According to the Daily Sabah this includes restoration at the Dome of the Rock, and a dormitory for female students of Al-Quds University. TIKA has an office in Ramallah.

Cavusoglu said on Thursday that TIKA had sought to open an office in Tel Aviv but it was not complete.

The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister's Office and TIKA have not responded to inquiries from the Post.

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