A Turkish woman detained by Israeli authorities for almost a month is set to be charged on Sunday with aiding a Hamas” the ruling movement’s in Gaza” through money transfers, media reports.
Upon ending a three day trip to Israel, 27 year-old Ebru Ozkan was arrested on June 11 at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport and taken for questioning ahead of her return flight to Turkey. Following an hours-long interrogation, the suspect was forced to remain in Israel and detained for a number of weeks.
She is suspected of transferring money to a member of Hamas, Özkan’s lawyer Omar Khamaysa told Haaretz.
Khamaysa claimed that a good friend from Istanbul had asked Özkan to deliver $500 to his Palestinian relative, adding that she couldn’t have known that the relative was a Hamas operative, according to the report. In a previous visit, the friend had requested that Özkan transfer a cellphone charger to a different person who was also a Hamas member, but he never showed up to receive it, the lawyer said.
The report said interrogators from the Shin Bet security agency haven’t informed Özkan’s defense team of the exact nature of the suspicions and charges against her, and that information has been gathered only from what authorities have said in court and during questioning.
Khamaysa also said that interrogations were conducted in Arabic, a language Özkan doesn’t speak well, and that she has said the Hebrew translation read out in court “distorted” her words.
The Shin Bet frequently justify withholding information on charges from defense teams of security suspects, saying that releasing it would endanger sources and put national security at risk.
Özkan hasn’t been permitted to speak with her family members, who have held several media conferences in Turkey to decry her fate.
“It is a completely arbitrary arrest,” her sister, Elif, told the Anadolu news agency last month. “They accuse her of [having links] to a terror organization but they are not saying which terrorist organization. They are all groundless claims.
Relations between Jerusalem and Ankara imploded in 2010, following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The raid, in which IDF commandos were attacked by activists on board, left 10 Turks dead and several soldiers wounded.
In May, relations between Israel and Turkey sank to a fresh low point after expelling each other’s envoys amid an acerbic war of words following deadly clashes on the Gaza Strip border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to social media to accuse Israel of being “a terror state” that was committing “genocide” against Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back shortly after, claiming that as a prime supporter of Hamas.
In response, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged Muslim countries to review their ties with Israel, while Erdogan called an “extraordinary summit” of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the issue.
On Saturday, an Israeli TV report revealed that Israel is mulling restrictions on the activities of Turkey’s overseas aid arm (TIKA) as a retribution for Erdogan’s attempts to wield greater power.