Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau who was in İstanbul on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants carried out their deadly attack on Israel, was “kindly” asked to leave Turkey, in an apparent move to avoid a fresh confrontation with Israel, according a report on the Al-Monitor news website.
Two different sources told Al-Monitor that Haniyeh was politely sent away after footage circulated on social media showing him and other Hamas members prostrating themselves in a “prayer of gratitude” while watching news of the incursion on television.
The sources said Ankara politely asked Haniyeh and his entourage to leave Turkey, unwilling to appear to be still protecting Hamas after the group’s killing of Israeli civilians.
Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people, both civilians and soldiers, according to Israeli authorities. It was the deadliest attack by militants in Israel’s 75-year history.
The Hamas-Israeli conflict came at a time when Turkey was just normalizing its relations with Israel after years-long tension, with both sides announcing the full restoration of relations and the return of ambassadors to both countries last year.
Turkey, which supports the Palestinian cause, does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, and Hamas leaders and militants are known to enjoy a safe haven in Turkey.
In July of this year Erdoğan, who often uses pro-Palestinian rhetoric, held a closed-door meeting with Haniyeh at his office in Ankara, along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.