October 12, 2023 | Flash Brief

Erdogan Pushes for Another Hamas Flotilla

October 12, 2023 | Flash Brief

Erdogan Pushes for Another Hamas Flotilla

Latest Developments

Turkey’s Ministry of Defense announced on October 12 that it plans to ship humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. While Ankara did not specify how the aid will be delivered, the move sets Turkey, a NATO member, in direct conflict with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which announced a siege of Gaza earlier this week while Israel’s military operation to eliminate the Hamas terrorist organization continues.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly criticized Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and has ratcheted up his anti-Israel statements since the operation started. The statements backtracked on efforts to normalize and improve relations with Israel over the past few years. Erdogan has accused Israel of acting immorally in its response and massacring civilians. Erdogan refused to condemn the perpetrators but instead blamed the fighting on a “year of injustices against Palestinians” — a Hamas talking point. Erdogan has also criticized a decision by the United States to relocate a carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean in order to prevent hostile actors from entering the conflict, falsely alleging that the United States plans to “carry out very serious massacres by striking all of Gaza.”

Expert Analysis

“Turkey is potentially doubling down on its brazen Hamas support by dispatching yet another flotilla to Gaza. The flotilla of 2010 ended in tragedy after activists attacked Israeli Navy commandos with crowbars and other crude weapons. This attempt should be halted before it starts. With U.S. and UK naval assets in the region, a blockade should be reinforced, and it should halt any Turkish vessel deemed to be part of this stunt.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Erdogan appears to be abandoning his hitherto lackluster attempt to ‘normalize’ ties with Israel, instead opting to tilt hard towards a pro-Hamas position. This is largely to appease his political base at home and has the added benefit of being in line with his Islamist worldview.”Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

Violent Gaza Flotilla

The election of Erdogan as Turkey’s prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014 led to a deterioration in the Israel-Turkey relationship. In May 2010, after the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead, Erdogan personally greenlit a flotilla of ships to breach the Israeli blockade of the territory, leading to a deadly incident with Israeli forces. As a result, Ankara broke diplomatic relations with Israel from 2011 until 2022.

Erdogan’s Position

Despite Turkey being the first Muslim country to recognize Israel, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) harbors anti-Israel views. The AKP and Hamas have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and share a similar anti-Western and antisemitic ideology. During his time in power, Erdogan has taken a decidedly anti-Israel stance. Turkey does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization and Erdogan himself has had friendly relations with Palestinian groups, including hosting numerous meetings with Hamas officials. Turkey has been a haven for Hamas since it established its headquarters in Istanbul in 2014. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh lives part-time in Turkey, and he and his son hold Turkish passports. Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’ West Bank chief, is also based in Istanbul.

Erdogan’s love for Hamas threatens Israel,” by Sinan Ciddi

Turkey Actively Supports Hamas, Refuses to Condemn Massacre,” by Sinan Ciddi

U.S. Wrong to Involve Qatar and Turkey in Israeli Hostage Negotiations,” FDD Flash Brief 

State Department Calls Out Erdogan’s Hosting of Hamas Terrorists,” by Aykan Erdemir


Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics Turkey