Turkey tightens restrictions on Hamas members, deports dozens: officials
Senior officials from Hamas in Gaza said on Monday that Turkey has been tightening its restrictions on its leaders and activists living in the country, as well as deporting dozens and preventing others from entering.
Speaking to The New Arab, Gaza-based official sources at the Islamic movement, who preferred to be anonymous to speak freely, said that the "arbitrary" Turkish measures against Hamas political and military activists came after an Israeli request as part of restoring diplomatic and economic ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
"Unfortunately," the sources opined, "Turkey seems to be willing to sacrifice its relationship with Hamas in exchange for reviving its internal economy."
"The movement's members are facing increasingly severe restrictions by the Turkish authorities in exchange for allowing some of them to stay in Turkish territory for a certain period," the source added.
Turkish-Israeli rapprochement alarms Hamas: experts https://t.co/i7LTpl8n0b— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) March 22, 2022
"We know that Ankara has not changed its position on the Palestinian cause, but it is facing very difficult economic pressures, which prompted it to re-normalise its relations with regional and international countries," one of the sources told The New Arab.
"Turkey submitted to international and Israeli blackmail in order to save its economy (...) and we knew very well that restoring relations with Israel would have a political price. Therefore, we were not surprised by the Turkish request from many of the movement's members to leave the country," he added.
However, the source believes that the close relations between Hamas and Turkey will not be significantly lost, especially since Turkey had expressed numerous "serious and courageous positions against Israeli violations."
In March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey for the first time after years of tension and met with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, amid an atmosphere of understanding on developing relations between the two countries.
Following their meeting, both presidents described that their countries are heading towards "a new turning point in relations based on common interests."
Turkey and Israel were once close allies, but the relationship frayed under Erdogan, who is an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said amounts to the crime of apartheid and crimes against humanity.
Turkey broke relations with Israel after a fatal attack by Israeli commandos on a peace flotilla led by Turkish boats in international waters in 2010, killing ten unarmed activists.
As a result, stronger relations developed between Hamas and Turkey, in which the Turkish capital Ankara frequently hosted visits from Hamas leaders.
Turkey also allowed Hamas leaders to move freely on its territory after they left Syria in 2012.
Palestinians can only depend on themselves https://t.co/0QAm0STU0m— Joe Catron (@jncatron) May 9, 2022
However, the close Hamas-Turkish relations seem to be coming to an end, especially after the Turkish embassy in Israel condemned a "Palestinian attack" in April that killed five Israelis, according to another official source at Hamas, who preferred to be unnamed.
For its part, Hamas's spokesperson Hazem Qassem criticised the "Turkish condemnation" in a press statement, saying that "the resistance by the Palestinians is guaranteed by all international laws."
"This heroic operation is a natural and legitimate response to the escalation of the occupation's crimes against our people, our land, our sanctuary, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Qassem added.
"At first, we were concerned and afraid that Ankara would take tough positions toward our members present on its soil. But today, we understand its current position," the source said.
"So far, we will not take any hostile stance towards Turkey as we should maintain good relations with all Arab and Islamic countries," the source added. "We need them to support us to confront Israeli crimes against Islamic and Christian sanctities of the Palestinian people in international forums and at the United Nations."
However, according to the source, the movement is looking for an alternative country to Turkey to host its member and provide all the political and economic facilities to the movement, noting that "Malaysia is currently the best country to receive Hamas members."