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Mashaal in Turkey: Israel Used Gaza to Test Iron Dome

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal meets Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. blames Israel for using excuses to attack Gaza.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 3/17/2012, 12:03 AM

Erdogan and Mashaal meet in Turkey
Erdogan and Mashaal meet in Turkey
Reuters

The head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, met on Friday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two met for two hours during a surprise visit Mashaal made to Ankara.

Channel 10 News reported that during the meeting, Mashaal told Erdogan that Israel had used excuses to attack Gaza during the escalation this week, when terrorists fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel.

“Israel used Gaza as an experiment field for the Iron Dome and for the IDF’s weapons,” Mashaal was quoted by Channel 10 as having told Erdogan.

The report said that the Turkish leader expressed his anger over the “Israeli aggression” and warned Mashaal against what he called Israel's attempt to drag Gaza into a war.

According to a report in the Turkish-based Today’s Zaman newspaper, the meeting between Mashaal and Erdogan focused mainly on the reconciliation between Hamas and its rival faction Fatah.

The newspaper quoted Erdogan as having told reporters prior to the meeting, “There are positive developments regarding relations between Hamas and Fatah. We will assess these developments."

He added that regional issues will also be discussed at the meeting, which was attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Ömer Çelik.

The meeting came two days after Fatah officials admitted they do not expect Hamas leaders in Gaza to follow through on its end of the Cairo reconciliation deal "anytime soon."

The now-itinerant Hamas politburo agreed to a deal in Qatar with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to form an interim government of technocrats.

However, Hamas leaders in Gaza ambushed Mashaal after-the-fact with a raft of new demands observers say Fatah will never agree to.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)