Turkey has granted citizenship to several senior operatives of a Hamas terrorist cell, The Telegraph reported, noting that site staff had viewed the Turkish identity papers.
The identity papers showed that at least one of the twelve operatives has received Turkish citizenship and an identity number. According to a senior source in the region, seven of the twelve operatives have received passports as well as citizenship, and the other five are in the process of receiving them.
In some cases, the site said, the Hamas terrorists are living under Turkish aliases. Some of the terrorists' families have also been granted Turkish citizenship.
All of the terrorists are considered active, and are working to raise funds for Hamas' activities and lead its operations, the source added.
The source added that: "These are not foot soldiers but the most senior Hamas operatives outside of Gaza. [They] are actively raising funds and directing operatives to carry out attacks in the present day. The Turkish government gave in to pressure by Hamas to grant citizenship to its operatives, thereby allowing them to travel more freely, endangering other countries that have listed Hamas as a terror group."
Almost all of the 12 are terrorists were among those released from prison in the infamous "Shalit deal." In that deal, over 1,000 convicted terrorists were set free in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier captured by Hamas and held in captivity. Since then, Hamas has taken the bodies of two other Israeli soldiers, is believed to be holding captive two mentally ill Israeli citizens, and has attempted several other kidnappings in hopes of achieving the release of more terrorists.
Despite the fact that both the US and the European Union see Hamas as a terror organization, Turkey insists that the group is a political movement, and that its rule over Gaza citizens was democratically decided.
Hamas has denied the allegations, claiming that its members had no role in terrorist activity and do not operate outside their borders. At the same time, a Turkish government spokesman contacted by The Telegraph declined to comment on the matter, merely noting that the claims were "baseless" and made "against Turkey by a foreign government."
Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is currently visiting Turkey, where he will meet with senior figures and possibly with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.
In December, The Telegraph reported that Erdogan was allowing Hamas to plot attacks against Israel from Turkish soil. At the time, a Turkish official denied the allegations, saying: "We reject all claims that Turkey is being used for anti-Israel activities."