The Turkish newspaper Al-Sabah, which is loyal to the Turkish government and is close to the ruling party, revealed today, Friday, that one of the members of the Israeli spy network – which consists of 15 members and was arrested recently – was collecting information on the Palestinians residing in Turkey and on the Turkish military industrialization.
On Thursday, the newspaper published the news of the arrest of the network in early October.
According to the newspaper, the accused were detained on charges of international espionage. So far, officials in Turkey have not announced this news directly.
The Turkish newspaper, which is close to Erdogan’s party, indicated that one of the accused, who owns a consulting company in Istanbul to help students coming from abroad to study in Turkey, received a call from a Mossad agent via WhatsApp, in December 2018, asking him to collect information about “clients of Erdogan.” In Germany, people of Arab origin want their children to study in Turkish universities.
The newspaper added that the information requested included how Palestinian students enroll in Turkey’s universities, and the facilities provided by the Turkish government and local councils.
The newspaper continued, that the accused sent the information a week later to the Mossad official, and in return he received “hundreds” of euros. He later sent information on Palestinian NGOs in Turkey, and met the Mossad agent face to face for the first time in 2019.
The Turkish newspaper also reported that this accused met a Mossad officer known as the “case officer” (Kiss Offer), who paid him thousands of euros in exchange for several files claimed until early 2020.
The newspaper reported that a “Palestinian agent” working for the Mossad, and was an “important member” of the network, traveled to Switzerland twice to meet with Mossad officers.
The news was covered extensively on the pro-government Al-Khabar TV channel, also hosted by journalist Abdurrahman Cesmek, who published the story.
The announcer of the Turkish channel said that it represented a “great journalistic success” and “a great intelligence success.”
Sisek said this was the “first” operation in the world to directly target an intelligence organization of this scale.
He added that this operation constituted the “last straw” after Ankara found that Israel had “violated” bilateral agreements by not being “directly an intelligence cell”.
The two Turkish newspapers, Al-Sabah and Fajr New, are well-known for their close ties to Turkish security sources, and they made international headlines earlier to provide details about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.
Relations between Turkey and Israel have witnessed instability in recent years, as both countries expelled the other’s ambassador in 2018 after major disagreements.
Ankara condemned the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians, while calling on Israel to stop Turkish support for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
And in July of this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the new Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, to congratulate him on assuming the position.
A report by Reuters news agency stated that despite the political tension between the two countries, trade exchange still exists between them.
In May of this year, Erdogan described Israel as a “terror state” after the Israeli police threw rubber bullets and sound bombs at Palestinian youths at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel accuses Ankara of aiding Hamas, which Israel considers a “terrorist” organization.