(Photo credit: Anadolu Agency)
Istanbul police and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) on 14 December announced the arrest of 44 people suspected of leaking information about Palestinian expatriates in Turkiye to the Mossad.
The operation targeted consulting companies which offered private investigation services via their contacts with the Israeli spy agency. The Mossad reportedly paid the suspects to monitor Palestinian individuals, institutions, and non-governmental organizations in Turkiye.
According to the testimony of those detained, their work helped the Mossad launch online defamation campaigns and threats against Palestinians.
One of the detainees was identified as Ismail Ytimoglu, who founded a private investigators’ association in 2007 and is a university lecturer. A search is ongoing for another 13 suspects.
In October 2021, Turkish security forces dismantled a spy network of 15 people working for the Mossad. They were also assigned the task of collecting information about Palestinians in Turkiye.
The spies were allegedly instructed to gather information on Palestinians attending Turkish universities, with a focus on discovering what opportunities the Palestinians were being afforded by the government.
Turkish media revealed that the spies were paid via services like Western Union and Moneygram, and in some cases, were compensated in Bitcoin.
Back in June, Israeli and Turkish intelligence agencies said they thwarted the “attempted kidnapping” of Israeli tourists in Istanbul by alleged Iranian agents.
Two months after this announcement, Ankara and Tel Aviv officially normalized ties and fully restored diplomatic relations.
However, mere days after the normalization was announced, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this “will not weaken” Ankara’s support for Palestinians.
In May 2018, following the deaths of some fifty Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli army in Gaza, Turkiye recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv and expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara, as well as the Israeli consul general in Istanbul. Israel retaliated by sending the Turkish consul general back to Jerusalem.