Skip to main content

Turkey detains 44 people 'suspected of spying on Palestinians for Israel's Mossad'

Turkish daily Sabah says 13 other suspects are at large in second reported roundup of suspected Mossad agents in 14 months
Istanbul police have formally arrested seven suspect and are questioning the others (AFP/file photo)
Istanbul police have formally arrested seven suspects and are questioning the others (AFP/file photo)

Turkish intelligence and police have detained 44 suspects who are believed to have been working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service to spy on Palestinians living in Turkey, a newspaper report claimed on Wednesday.

Turkish daily Sabah reported the suspects had been pretending to work as private consultants but their real mission was to monitor Palestinians and Palestinian-operated groups and NGOs.

The report added that the individuals were paid by Mossad to spy on the Palestinian targets and hand personal information and data to Israeli handlers.

Sabah said an Istanbul court has formally arrested seven of the suspects, 13 are at large and the rest are being questioned by the Istanbul police’s anti-terror division.

According to the daily, one of the main suspects, identified as IY, established a private detective association in Turkey in mid-2000s and now runs his own private detective company.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Uyghurs in Turkey mourn Urumqi fire fatalities
Read More »

Turkey and Israel decided to fully restore their diplomatic relations earlier this year after years of tensions on a set of issues.

Intelligence cooperation and a number of regional developments helped bring the two countries closer, and in August they mutually appointed ambassadors.

In September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Israel's outgoing prime minister, Yair Lapid, in New York, his first meeting with an Israeli premier since 2008, when Ehud Olmert visited Ankara.

Erdogan also said last month that he planned to visit Israel after its 1 November elections and that Turkey would maintain good relations, based on mutual interests, whatever the outcome of the election.

However, friction remains over Turkey hosting several leaders of the Hamas Palestinian resistance group. Israel has long demanded the expulsion of Hamas leaders as a pre-condition for a rapprochement, but eventually dropped it.

Turkish officials say most of the Hamas leaders in the country are there due to Israel’s own prisoner exchange deals, where freed Palestinians were sent to Turkey and Qatar.

In October 2021, Turkish intelligence agency MIT arrested 15 men accused of spying for Mossad, including Palestinians who had been missing for a month.

Two people who were familiar with October 2021 arrests told MEE that those men were arrested on charges of "espionage and working for Mossad to gather information on Palestinian citizens living in Turkey".

The sources added that Palestinians and Syrians were among those arrested in 2021, and that they were tasked with "collecting information on Turkish officials and Palestinian students inside Turkey".

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.