All Israel

'Hamas is not a terrorist organization,' Turkish President Erdoğan claims

Turkey denys asking Hamas leaders to leave the country just days ago

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS)

“Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation group, mujahideen waging a battle to protect its lands and people.”

This is what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a meeting with lawmakers of his Justice and Development (AK) party on Wednesday, and is his most detailed statement about the Israel-Hamas war since it began on Oct. 7.

Erdoğan called Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip “atrocities” and claimed that “Israel has been carrying out one of the bloodiest, most disgusting and brutal attacks in history against innocent people.”

Israel utterly condemned Erdoğan's “inciting” statements.

“Israel rejects with disgust the Turkish president’s dangerous statements about the terrorist organization Hamas. Hamas is an abominable terrorist organization worse than ISIS that brutally and intentionally murders babies, children, women and the elderly, takes civilians hostage, and uses its own people as human shields,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated.

On Sunday, the news outlet Al-Monitor reported that the Turkish government asked senior Hamas officials, including the its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, to depart Turkey, where they have been living in voluntary exile.

Turkey denied the reports that stated the request for Hamas leaders to depart Turkey was made in the immediate aftermath of the brutal invasion of Hamas terrorists into Israel on Oct. 7.

According to the report, “Ankara politely asked Haniyeh and his entourage to leave Turkey, unwilling to appear to be protecting Hamas after the group’s killing of Israeli civilians.”

Since 2011, Turkey has allowed the terror group to operate out of an office facility in Istanbul, providing Hamas members with Turkish passports and possibly military support as well, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“In July, Israeli authorities seized 16 tons of explosive material that originated in Turkey and were bound for Gaza, apparently intended for Hamas rockets. While Ankara often declares its desire to ‘normalize’ ties with Israel, Erdogan’s government remains a primary source of support for Hamas and other jihadist entities throughout the region,” the FDD wrote at the time.

Sinan Ciddi, FDD's senior fellow and expert on Turkish domestic politics and foreign policy, said Erdoğan wants to both repair ties with Israel and continue supporting Hamas at the same time.

“Erdoğan wants to have his cake and eat it,” Ciddi said.

“At a superficial level, he has been attempting to repair ties with Israel since 2022 to boost Turkey’s image with Washington. On a substantive level, he has continued to nurture Hamas’ status in Turkey, allowing the organization to recruit members, fundraise, and use Turkey as a base to coordinate terror attacks in the region.”

Ciddi argued that asking Hamas leadership to leave Turkey mainly serves as a fig leaf.

“The alleged request asking Hamas leaders to leave Turkey is a drop in the bucket, as it fails to address Ankara’s continued material support of the terrorist organization,” he said.

FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst David May said Erdoğan has not changed his mind about supporting Hamas, but is facing external pressure to prove he is distancing himself from the terror group following the Oct. 7 atrocities.

“Erdoğan has presented himself as a savior of the Palestinians, providing Hamas with a base in Turkey, refusing to condemn Hamas terrorism, and handing out cash to Palestinians in Jerusalem. Turkey’s alleged request of Hamas leaders to leave is due to external pressure, not ideological disagreement,” May wrote.

According to Al-Monitor, “The pressure on Ankara to cut ties with Hamas is coming mostly from the United States rather than Israel.”

“Ankara is unlikely to toughen its stance on Hamas as much as its Western partners would like. [Turkish] Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan seemed to preclude a drastic shift in Ankara’s position when he underlined Tuesday that the perspectives of the West and Turkey differ,” according to Al-Monitor.

The report also quoted Fidan as saying: “Since the Westerners define Hamas as a terrorist organization, they appraise all its activities in the framework of terrorism. We, for our part, say that no party should target civilians.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories