Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gaining influence in Gaza by increasing aid to Hamas 24-fold in the past two years, following the flotilla clash between Turkish-based IHH terror activists and the Israeli navy.
Relations between Israel and Turkey turned an about-face for the worse after the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist operation in late December 2008 and early December 2009.
Afterwards, Erdogan increasingly supported Hamas and gave de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh $2 milion a year in assistance, according to Al Jazeera. That sum now has reached $48 million annually, most of it from the Turkish government but some also from the terror-linked IHH group and other organizations that classify themselves as “humanitarian.”
Last May, Erdogan declared that Hamas, outlawed by the United States, is not a terrorist organization but actually is a political party against the ”occupation.”
He has made breaking the Israeli embargo on smuggling of terrorist weapons into Gaza a cause célèbre. Erdogan has demanded, without success, that Israel apologize for the clash with the IHH on the Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010, when IHH terror activists nearly clubbed to death Israeli commandos and kidnapped three of them until the soldiers were able to overcome the boat.
Turkish money is flowing into Gaza building projects, and Turkish flags and Erdogan’s picture are seen at construction sites in Gaza. Erdogan wanted to visit Gaza during a trip to Egypt in the summer but scrapped his plans, possibly because of Israeli oppositon.
One project is the “Turkish-Palestinian” hospital, for which Turkey has donated $34 million.