'Turkey denies promise of $300m. aid to Hamas'

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials say "no cash for Hamas," but Turkey is engaged in humanitarian aid in Gaza, 'Today's Zaman' reports.

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, Turkish PM  Erdogan_311 (photo credit: Stringer/Reuters)
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, Turkish PM Erdogan_311
(photo credit: Stringer/Reuters)
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials denied reports on Sunday that Turkey has promised to deliver Hamas $300 million in aid money to make up for shortfalls when Iran stopped funneling money last August, Turkish daily Today's Zaman reported.
According to the newspaper, Turkish officials said reports of Turkish aid to the Islamist group were fabricated, saying "there is no cash to Hamas, but Turkey is, of course, engaged in projects to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza."
Reuters reported that Turkey promised Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who visited Turkey for the first time earlier this month, millions of dollars in aid. Haniyeh thanked Turkey aboard the Mavi Marmara during his visit in Istanbul for supporting the Palestinian people. 
Ankara has made the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip a critical issue in its regional diplomacy, saying the IDF blockade cuts off necessary services for Palestinians.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Palestinian terrorists from importing materials to make weapons. Jerusalem has argued that it has eased the blockade in the last year.
While Turkey signaled its support of Hamas by allowing Haniyeh to visit on a diplomatic trip, Ankara may not want to be seen publicly supporting a group that the European Union and the United States classify as a terrorist group.
Turkey and Iran, often seen as Hamas's strongest ally in the region, have vied for influence in a swiftly changing Middle East, especially as political Islam becomes a viable option in countries where, prior to last year, such movements were officially banned.