Ankara (AFP) – Turkey on Tuesday blasted as “incompatible with reality” accusations by Israel it had helped the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas to gain in military strength, following the arrest and deportation of a Turkish citizen.
According to the Israeli authorities, Turkish national Cemil Tekeli was arrested in January on suspicion of aiding Hamas through business platforms that launder funds and later deported.
The Shin Bet intelligence agency said the investigation into Tekeli had shown that Turkey contributes to the military strengthening of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
But the Turkish foreign ministry said it rejected the allegations, describing the claim as “incompatible with reality and lacking in seriousness”.
Alluding to the Israeli investigation into Tekeli, it said that Israel made the claims based on “statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances.”
It added: “It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardise the security of another country.”
Shin Bet said that Hamas had laundered millions of dollars through Turkey.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, which said that Tekeli was a lecturer at Medeniyet University in Istanbul, reported he had now returned to Turkey after being freed by Israel on February 11.
Shin Bet said his alleged accomplice, Dharam Jabarin, an Arab Israeli, had also been arrested and is to be put on trial.
Turkey and Israel in 2016 ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship. But relations remain tense with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
Turkey delivers humanitarian aid to Gaza and this month bitterly denounced a US decision to put the head of Hamas Ismail Haniya on its terror blacklist.