The manager of the Gaza branch of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), Muhammad Murtaja, was arrested last month on the suspicion that he was working on behalf of Hamas, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency announced on Tuesday.
Shin Bet said that Murtaja took advantage of his position in TIKA in order to direct funds and resources away from “meaningful humanitarian projects” and towards Hamas’s military wing.
One apparent misappropriation detailed by the security service allowed “millions of shekels” to be given to Hamas members in food and cash.
Mehmet Kaya, the head of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known by its acronym IHH, was also implicated in the investigation, but has not been arrested. The IHH, which is closely linked to Turkey’s Islamist AKP government, is considered a terror organisation by Israel, and was behind the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla.
According to Shin Bet, Kaya used IHH money to “directly fund the activities of Hamas’s military wing”.
The IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that money donated to TIKA ended up in Hamas hands: with 84,000 food boxes for the needy only given to Hamas members; $13 million worth of low-income housing only provided to Hamas members; $3 million scholarship money for students and the poor transferred only to Hamas; $2 million was given as ‘humanitarian aid’ for family members of terrorists; and $4 million was given to Hamas members for a mass wedding.
Major General Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said that in diverting the aid Hamas had deprived the Gazan people: “The egotistical Hamas terror organisation has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organisations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror”.