TEL AVIV – Salah al-Arouri, a top Hamas leader, reportedly visited other Hamas operatives in NATO member Turkey this week.
Arouri was openly based in Turkey for the past few years until he reportedly departed in recent months amid renewed Israel-Turkey relations.
Alex Fishman, military correspondent for YnetNews, reports:
One of Hamas’s main recruitment and operation centers in the West Bank is based in Turkey. It has recently been reported that Salah Arouri, the person in charge of Hamas’ terrorist activity in the West Bank, was deported from Turkey to Qatar as part of the improving relations with Israel. But this is actually a hypocritical game played by the Erdogan regime vis-à-vis Israel. The Turks asked Aruri to leave several months ago following American pressure.
Hamas’s military wing, however, continues to operate from Istanbul, and Aruri himself comes and goes between Qatar and Turkey. This week, by the way, he is in Istanbul under the protection of Turkish intelligence, which is also securing him.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri refused to comment to Breitbart Jerusalem on the matter.
A Hamas source clamed Arouri’s latest visit to Turkey lasted for two days and was for personal reasons, not Hamas business.
Last month, a Hamas source told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that Arouri left Turkey due to major US and Israeli pressure.
“He decided to leave Turkey voluntarily so as not to embarrass Turkey, which was facing big pressure from Israel and the U.S. Administration,” the source stated.
Israeli security officials tell Breitbart Jerusalem that Arouri directs his own Hamas terrorist wing responsible for numerous cells in the West Bank.
In November, Israel’s Shin Bet security service disclosed that one month prior it had dismantled a terror cell of more than 30 West Bank Hamas militants who were being directed by what the Shin Bet described as a Hamas base in Turkey run by Arouri.
The Shin Bet said the cell was preparing to carry out major terrorist attacks, including the bombing of Jerusalem’s main soccer stadium and the city’s light rail train line. It was also plotting to kidnap Israelis domestically and abroad, carry out roadside attacks, storm Jewish villages, and plant car bombs in Israeli cities.
Israel fingered Arouri for assembling the terrorist cell that kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers last June. In August, Arouri was caught on tape boasting of Hamas’s involvement in the “heroic action.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.