Turkey has rejected Israel’s accusations that it helped Hamas gain in military strength, calling them “incompatible with reality,” after a Turkish citizen was arrested and deported.
“We reject the allegations, apparently out of reality and seriousness, which were introduced on the basis of some statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances,” Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying.
“It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardize the security of another country,” the statement continued.
Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish citizen and law lecturer, was arrested by the Shin Bet on January 15, 2018, just before he was due to board a plane at Ben-Gurion airport on suspicion of laundering money to Hamas using Turkish businesses. He was deported back to Turkey on February 11.
In an interview with Anadolu, Tekeli accused Israel of torturing and drugging him during his month-long detention.
“I used to hear people screaming, animal sounds. It was as if they had been tortured,” Tekeli said.
“Almost 16-17 people came every day and asked me the same questions every time. My eyes were sealed [blindfolded] and they were continuously taking me from one place to another,” he was quoted as saying, adding that, “you cannot even stand with your back against the wall because of bad plastering. Your hands and feet are cuffed.”
“In the last room I was sent, I was all naked and they kept me waiting in handcuffs in freezing cold… Later they said they would take me to a room that they called VIP. At first, I thought it would be a better room. But that VIP room turned out to be like a fridge. The prisoners there used to call it ‘sellace’, which means fridge.”
“One day, I was really exhausted after they had interrogated me for hours… Then I saw them giving me an injection. I tried to ask what they were doing and then I realized that there were two pills in my mouth. I could not focus on anything after that.”
According to the Shin Bet, the investigation regarding Tekeli found that he helped Hamas operatives who had come to Turkey establish themselves both personally and economically. Most of them were released during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal; all of them were involved in terror attacks which claimed the lives of dozens of Israeli citizens.
The investigation also found that Turkey is contributing to Hamas’ military buildup, among other things through SADAT, a company that was set up to help finance and build the “Army of Palestine” to fight Israel. SADAT also helped senior Hamas officials visit a weapons exhibit in Turkey where they expressed interest in unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) capabilities.
The Shin Bet implied that Turkey gave tacit approval for Hamas’s actions, saying that government officials there “turned a blind eye” to the fact that the terrorist group was the source of the money given to Tekeli and an Arab-Israeli who was also arrested in the case.
“The findings of the investigation illustrate the extensive military and economic activity of Hamas in Turkey, which takes place uninterrupted as Turkish government officials turn a blind eye, and sometimes even encourage with the assistance of Turkish citizens, some of whom are close to the administration,” read the Shin Bet statement.
“This activity relies, inter alia, on business platforms used by Hamas to launder funds to be transferred to the West Bank and to recruit Israelis for its activities,” the statement added.