Danny Yatom
Danny YatomFlash 90

Officials in Israel's intelligence community expressed shock and anger over the report Thursday that Turkey had given Tehran the identities of ten Israelis who were gathering information in Iran.

According to the report in the Washington Post Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan deliberately exposed a network of Iranians who had been working with the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Sources told the paper that Turkey’s deliberate exposure of the agents’ identities was a “significant” blow to Israel’s intelligence in Iran.

No official announcement has been made in Iran on the arrest of the agents, but Israeli officials said that they believed the report was accurate.

This, despite the fact that Iran and Turkey are rivals.

“That rivalry makes it unlikely that they would cooperate on a level like this,” said Israeli security analyst Roni Daniel. But Israeli security officials, he said, are aware that the Turkish and Iranian intelligence services have worked together on numerous issues. Thus it is quite likely that the story is correct.

There was no official comment by the government. Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told Israel Radio that Israel's relations with Turkey were “complicated. Turkey is seeking to become the leader of the Middle East, and thinks it has found the easiest path to this – agitating against Israel.”

In an interview, former Mossad head Danny Yatom said that if true, “this is unacceptable behavior by Turkey directed at Israel. This could certainly prevent Iranians from cooperating with Israel on nuclear issues. We all want to have good relations with as many countries as possible, and it is important to Israel to foster good relations with all countries. But if the report is true, Turkey has, with this harmful action, mortally wounded relations with Israel,” he said.