Israeli security forces arrested the head of a Turkish humanitarian aid group in the Gaza Strip for funneling funds earmarked for reconstruction efforts to Hamas’s military wing.
Israel’s Shin Bet revealed that Gaza resident Muhamad Murtaja, manager of the Gaza branch of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), was arrested in February for helping Hamas.
According to the Shin Bet, Murtaja was recruited by Hamas in 2008 and became part of its military wing in 2009. He was later appointment director of TIKA’s Gaza branch in 2012 and has been accused of using his position to redirect “millions of shekels” in funds that were intended for “meaningful humanitarian projects” to Hamas. This includes replacing the names of “needy” Gazans eligible for financial aid with those of Hamas fighters as well as directing food packages to Hamas commanders and their families.
Another man, Mehmet Kaya, who heads the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which was behind the 2010 Gaza Flotilla incident and is classified as a terror group by Israel, has also been accuses of funneling funds to Hamas. Kaya has not yet been arrested.
Additionally, the Shin Bet said that IHH funds were used to hold public events celebrating Hamas fighters and giving them gift packages as well as constructing terror training bases and purchasing military equipment and weapons.
“The egotistical Hamas terror organization has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organizations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror,” the Coordinator for Israeli Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said