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Israeli foreign minister and Turkish president discuss Israeli prisoners held in Gaza by Hamas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosts Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Ankara, Feb. 14, 2023 (Photo: Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye)

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss Israeli captives being held in Gaza by the Hamas Islamist terrorist organization.

Hamas is holding two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Ankara previously provided financial and logistical assistance to Hamas, as well as housing for senior Hamas officials, including Saleh al-Arouri, founding commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Despite past tensions between Turkey and Israel over this issue, with restored diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, Israel now hopes Erdogan’s close ties with Hamas could potentially facilitate the release of the Israeli hostages.

The Israeli top diplomat also expressed his support, following the recent devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of at least 35,000 people. Israel has provided search and rescue teams and significant humanitarian aid to the disaster-struck nation.

In addition, Israel’s Foreign Ministry wants to continue strengthening bilateral relations with the Turkish government.

“We have been working lately to strengthen them. Friends are measured in this difficult time. Israel extends its arm and expresses solidarity with the Turkish people,” Cohen stated.

The Turkish president has faced intense domestic criticism for his government’s slow response to the earthquake disaster. Erdogan’s meeting with the Israeli foreign minister could indicate Turkey’s appreciation for Israel’s significant contributions.

During his visit to Turkey, Cohen also met his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and discussed the Iranian nuclear threat with Turkish leaders.

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

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