Dec 15 2017

Turkey brings aid worker's arrest in Israel onto agenda

Israeli intelligence services’ accusations against an official from the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), who was arrested in February, are false, Turkey said on Thursday.

“History will definitely remember who served humanity and who served hostility,” Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by Turkish pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah.

Israeli domestic intelligence service Shin Bet had arrested the Gaza manager of TIKA on Feb. 12, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported at the time.

Muhammad Murtaja, a Palestinian citizen, was accused by Israeli prosecutors of diverting TIKA funds to Hamas, producing and storing weapons and obtaining satellite images produced in Turkey to aid Hamas’ rocket attacks, The Times of Israel said.

Before TIKA, Murtaja worked for the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known by its Turkish acronym, İHH. Israel designates İHH, which was among the organisers of 2010 Gaza flotilla, as a “terrorist organisation.”

Reacting to the criminal charges at the time, a spokesman for the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs, Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, said “the claims made in the indictment need to be examined,” while also adding, “TIKA follows duly the principles of transparency and cooperation set by international standards.”

Besides Gaza, TIKA runs 71 projects in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, Daily Sabah wrote, including the restoration of the Dome of the Rock.