Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s communications directorate has denied claims that Turkey asked Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, and other Hamas leaders who were reportedly in İstanbul on Oct. 7, when Hamas militants carried out their deadly attack on Israel, to leave the country.
The directorate’s anti-disinformation center announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday in Arabic that the claim that “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered senior Hamas officials to leave Turkey immediately” are completely false.
“Do not believe the baseless and false claims,” the anti-disinformation center tweeted, posting an excerpt from the Al-Monitor news website, which made the claim.
إن الادعاءات بأن "الرئيس التركي السيد رجب طيب أردوغان أمر كبار المسؤولين في حماس بمغادرة تركيا على الفور" عارية من الصحة تماما.
لا تصدقوا الادعاءات العارية من الصحة والكاذبة.⬇️ pic.twitter.com/8p2SHAlh8Q
— Dezenformasyonla Mücadele Merkezi (@dmmiletisim) October 23, 2023
According to a Sunday article in the Washington-based Al-Monitor, Haniyeh was in Istanbul on Oct. 7, contradicting previous reports that he was in his office in Doha, Qatar.
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 still be protecting Hamas after the group’s killing of Israeli civilians.
The anti-disinformation center did not make clear whether Haniyeh, who is frequently hosted by Erdoğan, was in Turkey on the day of the attack.
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.