Turkish police in Diyarbakır, Turkey, in January 2016

Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Mahmut Bozarslan/Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons
Turkish police in Diyarbakır, Turkey, in January 2016

(JNS) — Turkish counterintelligence recently detained seven alleged Mossad agents on suspicion of espionage, Ankara’s National Intelligence Organization announced on Monday. According to local media, all seven confessed to working for the Israeli spy agency.

Reports noted that the men are believed to have spied on “non-Turkish nationals.” The suspects, who carried passports of various Middle Eastern countries, were reportedly members of a 56-member team, which was in turn part of a larger network consisting of nine cells.

In May, Turkish officials announced the arrest of 11 people for spying on an Iranian company and individuals with business ties to Teheran. At least one member of the cell received training in Israel, reports said at the time.

Jerusalem and Ankara last summer announced the restoration of full diplomatic ties, with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid saying that the move would “contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability.”

Six months ago, Irit Lillian presented her credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, becoming the first Israeli ambassador to Turkey since 2018.

However, significant points of contention between the two countries remain. Most notably, Hamas maintains its operational headquarters on Turkish soil, which it uses to orchestrate and fund terrorism in Judea and Samaria.

While Erdogan has expelled a handful of Hamas members from Turkish soil in recent months, its foreign minister late last year reaffirmed that Turkey “do[es] not see Hamas as a terrorist organization.”