Archive for December 18, 2019

‘Erdogan turns blind eye as Hamas plots attacks on Israel from Turkish soil’ 

December 18, 2019

Source: ‘Erdogan turns blind eye as Hamas plots attacks on Israel from Turkish soil’ – www.israelhayom.com

“Israel is extremely concerned that Turkey is allowing Hamas terrorists to operate from its territory, in planning and engaging in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians,” Israeli foreign ministry official says.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is turning a blind eye to the fact that senior Hamas officials based in Istanbul are actively plotting terrorist attacks against Israel, British daily The Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the interrogations of several terror suspects derived that senior Hamas operatives are using Turkey’s largest city to plan and direct attacks in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.

Israel has repeatedly warned Turkey that officials with Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group from the school of the Muslim Brotherhood that is also sponsored by Iran, is using its soil to plot attacks.

Still, these warnings seem to fall on deaf ears.

Last week, Erdoğan met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Ankara and declared his country “will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine,” the report said.

This support of an organization designated by many Western nations, including Israel, the United States and the European Union, as a terrorist group further seems to be in breach of a 2015 US-brokered deal with Israel, by which Turkey was meant to stop Hamas planning attacks from its soil.

Ankara has consistently failed to honor the agreement, Israeli officials said.

“Israel is extremely concerned that Turkey is allowing Hamas terrorists to operate from its territory, in planning and engaging in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians,” The Telegraph quoted an Israeli foreign ministry official as saying.

Turkey has agreed to offer Hamas officials safe harbor in Istanbul even as major powers in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia, have expelled them over the threat they pose.

The report further quoted Israeli and Egyptian intelligence sources as saying that about a dozen senior Hamas operatives have moved to Istanbul from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the past year alone.

A Turkish diplomatic source denied Hamas was planning terrorist attacks against Israel from Turkey, telling The Telegraph Hamas “is not a terrorist organization” but a legitimate Palestinian political party.”

Hamas denied the allegations as “baseless,” saying they were designed to damage the group’s political ties with Ankara, the report said.

“Hamas’ resistance activities are conducted only in the occupied land of Palestine,” a Hamas spokesman said.

The report noted that so far, Israel has refrained from acting against Hamas operatives in Turkey, saying Jerusalem may be wary of the diplomatic fallout should it pursue a targeted assassination on a NATO member’s soil, as well as over what such a move may mean to its diplomatic relations with Turkey.

Israel and Turkey were once close allies, but diplomatic relations between the two have soured in the last decade. Under Erdoğan, Turkey has become a vocal critic of Israel, sparking frequent verbal feuds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Hundreds of American troops added to targeted Iraq base as US threatens reprisal for Iraqi militias’ rocket attacks – DEBKAfile

December 18, 2019

Source: Hundreds of American troops added to targeted Iraq base as US threatens reprisal for Iraqi militias’ rocket attacks – DEBKAfile

Hundreds of US troops landed at the US Al-Assad airbase in western Iraq on Monday, Dec. 16 after an American threat of reprisal against pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias for their rocket attacks on US bases in that country.

That threat sparked an Iraqi militia exit from Iranian Al Qods bases and command centers in Iraq and Syria – among them, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, the big Iranian military complex near the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kamal.

The Iraqi militiamen crossed into Iraq and scattered in the desert and dry river areas of the western Iraqi province of Anbar. The new American military personnel were transferred by nearly 500 military vehicles from Jordan to the Al Assad air base, which is the largest US military installation in the region. It has come under repeated rocket attack and shelling.

The American threat of reprisal was greeted by those militias with a promise of more attacks. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper held conversations with Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in the last few days. They warned him that US patience was running out after constant rocket harassment by the local pro-Iranian militias.

Since early November, American military and civilian locations, including also the US embassy compound in Baghdad, have taken at least 10 strikes by rockets, mortar shells or Katyusha fire. Esper stressed when he talked to the Iraqi prime minister on Dec. 16, that the US has the right to self-defense.

After their conversation, which was described as “tough,” Adel Mahdi called on all parties to exercise restraint and warned the US against taking action. The statement issued in Baghdad said: “Unilateral decisions will trigger negative reactions that will make it more difficult to control the situation and will threaten Iraq’s security, sovereignty and independence.”

This was taken is indicating that the Iraqi prime minister had received information that the pro-Iranian Shiite militias were ready to take American punishment but had also completed their preparations to retaliate with more attacks on American bases in Iraq. Those bases house some 5,000 US troops and also serve as the logistic infrastructure for American forces operating in Syria.