Shin Bet: Hamas Funneling Terror Funds to West Bank, Gaza Through Turkey

Hamas is apparently trying to bolster its political presence in the West Bank in preparation for the day after Palestinian President Abbas' reign ends

FILE PHOTO: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Marshal pose for a photo in Istanbul, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015.

A Turkish law professor has been deported and an Israeli Arab is facing indictment over involvement in a Hamas effort to funnel money for terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza via Turkey, the Shin Bet security service announced on Monday.

Kamil Tekeli, a Turkish law professor, was arrested by the Shin Bet and the police in mid-January. He was deported back to Turkey after being questioned.

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About a week later, police arrested Dergham Jabareen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, on suspicion of involvement in moving funds from Turkey to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for use in terrorist activity.

According to the Shin Bet, both men were recruited by Zahar Jabareen, a Hamas operative who was deported from the West Bank after Israel released him from prison in 2011 as part of the deal to gain captured soldier Gilad Shalit’s release. Jabareen is one of the heads of Hamas’ West Bank Command. This command, headed by Saleh al-Arouri, is actually based overseas, but its purpose is to plan and fund acts of terror in the West Bank.

The Shin Bet statement also accused Turkey of aiding Hamas’ military build-up via a company called SADAT, established by an adviser to members of the current government in Ankara. Tekeli told his interrogators that the company sends money and arms to Hamas.

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Tekeli said that Jihad Yaghmour, a Hamas operative who was jailed for involvement in the 1994 kidnap and murder of soldier Nachshon Wachsman but also released in the Shalit deal, serves as the liaison between the West Bank Command and the Turkish government, which hosts it. Though Al-Arouri has migrated in recent years between Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar after Washington pressured Ankara to deport him, other senior members of the command are still based in Turkey.

Tekeli said he helped Hamas operatives who came to Turkey to buy apartments, offices and cars and set up companies registered in his name. 

The Shin Bet said its investigation discovered one company set up by Hamas in Turkey that was used to launder money collected for Hamas in other countries and then send it on to the territories. In this way, millions of dollars were sent to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Dergham Jabareen was arrested due to his connection to this company. The Shin Bet said that over the last year and a half, he traveled frequently to Turkey, where Hamas recruited him. 

Jabareen managed to transfer some 200,000 euros ($246,000) to Hamas operatives in the West Bank, leaving the money at pick-up points agreed in advance. Another 91,000 euros that he received from Turkey was found in his possession. 

Two other residents of Umm al-Faham have also been arrested on suspicion of helping transfer money to Hamas from Turkey.

A senior defense official told Haaretz that the Turkish government has turned a blind eye to and even encouraged Hamas’ wide-ranging operations in Turkey. He added that Hamas has recently been making noticeable efforts to ramp up security tensions in the West Bank, though it is still interested in preventing a major clash with Israel in Gaza.

Defense officials believe Hamas is trying to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. Just last month, after a long string of failures, it finally managed to carry out a lethal terror attack – the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad. 

It is also apparently trying to bolster its political presence in the West Bank in preparation for the day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ reign ends. At that point, a succession battle is expected to break out among senior members of Abbas’ Fatah party.