Palestinian officials have said that members of a Hamas network operating in the West Bank and arrested by Israel were acting under orders from a commander based in Turkey. As the Times of Israel reports:
[Hamas Leader Saleh al-Arouri], they said, built up and funded the network, and has effectively established a Hamas command post in Turkey which is leading terror efforts in the West Bank. Arouri is reportedly aided by dozens of operatives, some of whom were deported by Israel in the wake of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in 2011.The [Palestinian] officials accused Turkey as well as Qatar — the current home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal — of enabling Hamas to operate freely within their territories to carry out attacks against Israel and undermine the Palestinian Authority. […]The officials added that several Hamas operatives connected to the recently uncovered network were also being held in PA detention facilities.
It’s not clear yet whether this terrorist cell had any connection to the plot to assassinate Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. While that story will almost certainly garner more headlines, this report raises several interesting points. If the cell’s members are being held by both Israel and the PA, that implies that there is still some degree of security cooperation between the two despite the ongoing crisis over the Temple Mount and the Palestinian murders of Israeli civilians.The accusations against Turkey seem to provide evidence that Turkey is willing to harbor and tacitly approve of terrorist operations operating within its borders. Despite strategic setbacks, Turkey remains committed to supporting militant Islamists throughout the region, including Hamas. Qatar’s alleged involvement could also set back the recent attempts at rapprochement between Qatar, its Gulf neighbors, and Egypt. Egypt has been taking a wait-and-see approach toward those talks, and the vehemently anti-Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt will likely take this as a negative sign as they continue their fight against Islamists in the Sinai.