Turkey detains 33 over alleged ties with Israel's Mossad

Turkish authorities detained 33 individuals on suspicion of espionage for Israel's intelligence service Mossad. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on Jan. 2 that the detainees were accused of targeting foreigners residing in Turkey.

Reuters & Duvar English

Turkish police detained 33 people suspected of spying for Israel's Mossad intelligence service and of targeting foreigners living in Turkey, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on Jan. 2.

Last month, Turkish officials warned Israel of "serious consequences" if it tried to hunt down members of the militant group Hamas living outside Palestinian territories, including in Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned, "If they commit such a mistake, they will pay a very heavy price."

Turkey, unlike most of its Western allies and some Arab nations, does not classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Police raided 57 locations in eight provinces as part of an investigation - dubbed "Operation Mole" - launched by the Istanbul prosecutor's counter-terrorism bureau and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Yerlikaya said.

He said on social media platform X that the suspects were believed to be aiming to identify, monitor, assault, and kidnap foreign nationals living in Turkey. The state-run Anadolu Agency said authorities were seeking 13 others.

Asked about the arrests, Israeli Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment.

"The Israeli Intelligence Service is recruiting personnel to be used in acts against Palestinians residing in our country and their families," senior Turkish official said to Reuters, adding it used job postings on social media to establish contact and later used encrypted messaging platforms to maintain communications with contacts.

"It uses intermediaries/live couriers for payments to be made to its contacts. It tries to lose trace of the money by using cryptocurrency and a (money) transfer system," the person said, adding Turkey's operations against people linked to Mossad would continue.

The official said the suspects were also spreading fake news and disinformation, carrying out robberies and blackmail for the Israeli intelligence. Mossad arranged meetings and training for the suspects abroad, the person added.

Turkey has harshly criticized Israel for its bombardment of Gaza, with Erdoğan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly exchanging barbs last week.

Yerlikaya said authorities had found large amounts of foreign currency, including around 150,000 euros ($165,105), an unregistered firearm, and digital materials during the raids.

He shared footage of the operations showing police raiding homes, handcuffing suspects, and putting them in police vehicles.