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Hamas sought to establish base in Turkey: report

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Hamas planned to establish a secret outpost in Turkey to launch attacks against Israeli targets, The Times reported on Tuesday, citing files captured by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza.

The documents, labeled “Founding a base in Turkey,” were found at the residence of Hamza Abu Shanab, chief of staff to Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, according to The Times.

The revelation follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that over 1,000 Hamas members are being treated in Turkish hospitals, reiterating his stance that Hamas is a “resistance movement.”

According to The Times, the clandestine document outlines Hamas’s intent to set up military hubs abroad to carry out intelligence and military operations, citing the need for a response to Israeli crackdowns over the past decade.

The three-year plan detailed the creation of numerous military cells and safe houses in various countries as well as the training of these cells in sabotage and assassination tactics. Targets included Mossad officers, influential Israelis and Israeli naval vessels and plans for kidnappings.

Erdoğan, who has long criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, has publicly supported Hamas, referring to them as a “resistance organization” rather than a terrorist group. His recent statements included harsh criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of genocidal methods.

Turkey has allowed Hamas to operate offices in İstanbul but has denied that the group conducts terrorist activities from Turkish soil. Despite Erdoğan’s public support for Hamas’s political leadership, intelligence sources suggest he is reluctant for Turkey to become a base for Hamas’s military wing.

An attack by Hamas on Israel resulted in some 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians, and the capture of around 250 hostages on October 7. Israel’s subsequent military response has killed over 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

A Turkish official later clarified to Reuters that Erdoğan’s reference to “more than 1,000 Hamas members” being treated in Turkish hospitals was a misstatement, stating that the figure referred to Gazans in general.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, among others, but not by Turkey and some other nations.

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