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Turkey detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

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Turkey said on Tuesday it had detained seven people, including a private detective, suspected of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, Agence France-Presse reported.

The operation by Turkey’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and İstanbul counterterrorism police showed the suspects had passed on information to Mossad for money, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Anadolu cited security sources as saying that the private detective, a former public servant identified as Hamza Turhan Ayberk, is suspected of gathering information on Middle Eastern companies and individuals in Turkey, placing tracking devices and engaging in surveillance.

Ayberk, who appeared on TV stations as a commentator, also allegedly established a spying team including former public servants like him.

An unverified Instagram page under Ayberk’s name shows anti-Israel posts and posts in support of the Palestinian cause, including a T-shirt with a Palestinian flag and a note saying, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Ayberk was trained by Mossad in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, used secret communication tools and received payments in cryptocurrency that did not appear in official records, the sources said.

The raids come after Turkish authorities rounded up 34 people in January suspected of planning abductions and spying for Mossad. Fifteen of the suspects were later arrested.

İstanbul prosecutors then said 12 other suspects remained at large.

These developments follow reports of Israel’s plans to assassinate members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas living abroad.

Ronen Bar, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet, has publicly stated Israel’s intention to target Hamas leaders globally, including in Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned of severe repercussions if Israel targets Hamas members in Turkey.

Unlike most of its NATO allies, Turkey does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In December 2022 another Turkish court arrested seven out of 44 people who were detained on suspicion of spying on Palestinians in Turkey for Mossad.

Israel began pounding the Palestinian enclave of Gaza after Hamas militants carried out an unprecedented surprise attack in Israel on October 7 that claimed some 1,200 lives.

Israeli air and ground attacks in Gaza have resulted in at least 30,500 deaths since October 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry, in addition to causing massive destruction in the enclave.

Relations between Turkey and Israel imploded after the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Erdoğan has turned into one of the world’s harshest critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He has compared Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and asked Israel’s Western allies to drop their support for the “state terrorism” being conducted in Gaza.

After the January arrests, Erdoğan said the Turkish operation “seriously disturbed” Israel.

“Just wait,” he said, referring to the Israeli authorities. “You will get to know Turkey.”

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