Turkey denies Hamas planned attacks from Istanbul

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday denied accusations that the Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas had been allowed to plot attacks from Istanbul.

The ministry’s statement on Twitter came in response to a report by the Daily Telegraph that said a senior Hamas operative, Zacharia Najib, while based in Turkey’s largest city, put a plan in motion to kill one of three important Israeli figures.

The Telegraph’s report, which cited Israeli and Egyptian official records, said a dozen high-ranking members of Hamas had moved to Istanbul and were using the city as their headquarters while Turkish authorities turned a blind eye.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union and it is held responsible for attacks on Israeli civilians. The Telegraph said the Hamas operatives who had moved to Istanbul included Abdel Rahman Ghanimat, who is suspected of planning a series of attacks in Israel, including the 1997 bombing of the Café Apropo in Tel Aviv, which killed three people and wounded 48.

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry firmly rejected accusations that the Palestinian group had been allowed to plan attacks from Turkish territory in a tweet on Thursday.

“The majority of the international community considers #Hamas not as a terrorist organisation but as a political reality which has won the elections in #Gaza back in 2006,” the ministry said in another tweet.

“It is worth recalling that the UNGA rejected branding Hamas as a terrorist organisation last year. Various countries, including #Turkey, have contacts with Hamas at different levels,” it said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Turkey last week, the first stop on an international tour, and was received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.