Israel unruffled by stories of alleged spy ring in Turkey

These will not be simple occasions for Israel. It has been dealt a unhealthy hand of playing cards on Iran, going through an infinite standoff with Hamas in Gaza and continued Hezbollah and Iranian entrenchment on the Syrian Golan. Against the backdrop of the Oct. 22 summit between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Israel is going through a brand new improvement: Reports from Turkey say authorities there cracked a Mossad spy community and arrested 15 of its members.

No one in Israel appears overly bothered by the information, which many sources think about a home Palestinian affair. Official Israel is ignoring the stories, in keeping with which the Turkish intelligence service tracked the Mossad ring, consisting of 5 three-member cells, for a yr. On Oct. 7, safety brokers raided the properties of the 15 alleged brokers and arrested them.

The stories coincide with the mysterious disappearance in latest weeks of seven Palestinians learning in Turkey, six males and a lady. “They could well have been detained by Turkish intelligence,” an Israeli intelligence supply instructed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity. “In any case, there is no significant Mossad network, and there was no such network, and this whole affair is not directly connected to us.”

A former senior Mossad official instructed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “Israel is not spying on Turkey, the two countries are not at war and Turkey is not on our list of so-called essential information targets.”

Nonetheless, Turkey is positioned at an vital geopolitical crossroads and is the scene of Hamas exercise. Israel has usually complained to Turkey about its internet hosting of prime Hamas officers and their actions and does monitor vital Hamas figures, probably the most senior being Salah al-Arouri, one of many founders of Hamas’ army wing. The Mossad claims al-Arouri is in Turkey, from which he’s attempting to run Hamas terrorist networks within the West Bank. Al-Arouri has additionally been on the US most wished record for a number of years.

“Our assessment is that this is in fact an effort by the Palestinian Authority to track senior Hamas figures endangering it from Istanbul,” a senior Israeli army supply instructed Al-Monitor. According to the Palestinian information website Shehab, seven of the alleged Mossad brokers had been in reality working for PA intelligence. The seven may effectively be the identical college students reported lacking in Turkey in September. A joint Turkish-Palestinian crew was shaped following the disappearance to find them, whereas the PA tried to reassure their households.

Israel and the PA have been cooperating for years on safety issues, principally to thwart terrorist assaults in Palestinian and Israeli territories. If, in reality, the Palestinians had been those working the community out of Turkey, it will be the primary time joint international exercise by the Palestinian and Israeli spy businesses overseas has been uncovered. Cooperation between Israel’s home Shin Bet safety company and the Palestinian safety businesses has been identified for years. Is the Mossad additionally concerned?

It appears unlikely. The scandal, first reported with a lot fanfare by media retailers with ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has not a lot troubled Israel. According to Oct. 22 stories in Turkey, certainly one of these detained is a Palestinian whose initials are M.A.S. and ran an workplace serving to Palestinian college students in Turkey. According to his testimony, as reported from Turkey, he was contacted in 2018 by a person figuring out himself as a European Union official who sought details about Palestinian college students in Turkey. The two began assembly in Switzerland and exchanging encrypted data.

Israel is available in the market for intelligence concerning the actions of Palestinian college students in Turkey, on condition that lots of them ultimately return to the West financial institution. During the heyday of the Islamic State group, Turkey served as a launch pad and transit level to Syria and Iraq and Israel and lots of Western states carefully monitored these actions. Salah al-Arouri would undoubtedly be an individual of curiosity for his efforts to fire up anti-PA and anti-Israel Hamas exercise within the West Bank. The Mossad may effectively be attempting to observe his actions and there’s no doubt it’s interested by his actions.

“Nonsense, we do not have any such network there,” a former prime Mossad official instructed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity. “Even if there was such a network, it would have been of marginal importance. Turkey is not a prioritized intelligence target; it is not an enemy state. Israel might be trying to track Hamas activity on Turkish soil, and that is no secret, but the drama presented in the Istanbul and Ankara media is overblown.”

It may all be Palestinian exercise orchestrated, as reported by Shehab, by Palestinian intelligence Chief Majed Faraj in coordination with Israel. The web site reported that enormous quantities of cash had been discovered, allegedly given to the cell members by Palestinian intelligence to spy on college students recognized with Hamas. The PA views Hamas as an enemy striving to deliver down Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and take over the West Bank, simply because it did in Gaza some 15 years in the past. If the affair is an inner Palestinian matter, and even when the Mossad was concerned straight or not directly, the case is hardly as dramatic as it’s being offered.

Israeli curiosity in Turkey has grown in latest months, prompted by a number of makes an attempt from Ankara to reach out to Jerusalem, capped by a prolonged dialog in July between Erdogan and new Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Erdogan initiated the decision to congratulate Herzog on his election, after which Herzog, in keeping with what a number of sources have instructed Al-Monitor pressured Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to think about the Turkish proposal to thaw relations.

Herzog’s proposal was not met with a lot enthusiasm, particularly in gentle of loud protestations on the a part of Cyprus and Greece, with which Israel has been engaged in a strategic regional alliance after shedding its Turkish ally. Rumors about Erdogan’s failing well being and Turkey’s financial difficulties are literally enhancing prospects of a rapprochement between Ankara and Jerusalem, although the stories concerning the alleged Mossad community may have an adversarial impact.

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