Turkish authorities conducted raids in Istanbul and seven other provinces, arresting 33 people suspected of spying for Israel, Turkey’s Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced.
Those arrested are accused of having had links with Israel’s Mossad security service. They were recruited to spy on Palestinians residing in Turkey, as well as Israeli activists opposed to the Israeli government, Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency reported. According to the report, the suspects were plotting activities that included “reconnaissance” as well as “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreigners living in Turkey.
Authorities were still searching for 13 other suspects. The Reuters news agency cited a senior Turkish official as saying the Israeli intelligence used job postings on social media to establish contact. He also said they used encrypted messaging platforms to communicate with their alleged agents.
It was not immediately clear if the suspects were Israeli nationals or Turkish citizens.
The head of Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, had earlier suggested the organization was prepared to destroy the militant, Islamist group Hamas “in every place,” including in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been outspokenly critical of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, warned of “serious consequences” to such actions.
Hamas, the group behind the bloody October 7 attacks on Israel which killed nearly 1,200, is designated as a terrorist organization in the US, Israel, Germany and the European Union.
Turkey, however, does not consider the group a terrorist organization. Early on in the war, Erdogan described it as a “liberation group.”