October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ankara Denies Asking Hamas Leaders to Leave Turkey

October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ankara Denies Asking Hamas Leaders to Leave Turkey

Latest Developments

Turkey’s government has reportedly asked key Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, to leave Turkey. Ankara has denied this, stating “the allegations that ‘Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered senior Hamas officials to leave Turkey immediately’ are completely false,” likely wanting to avoid condemnation by pro-Hamas domestic constituents. Ankara is a material supporter of Hamas and has harbored Hamas’ top leadership in Turkey since 2011. According to reporting from Al-Monitor, Haniyeh was in Turkey on October 7 but was “sent away” after footage emerged showing Haniyeh celebrating the terror attacks in Israel.

Expert Analysis

“Erdogan wants to have his cake and eat it. At a superficial level, he has been attempting to repair ties with Israel since 2022 to boost Turkey’s image with Washington. On a substantive level, he has continued to nurture Hamas’ status in Turkey, allowing the organization to recruit members, fundraise, and use Turkey as a base to coordinate terror attacks in the region. The alleged request asking Hamas leaders to leave Turkey is a drop in the bucket, as it fails to address Ankara’s continued material support of the terrorist organization.” — Sinan Ciddi, FDD Senior Fellow on Turkey

“Erdogan has presented himself as a savior of the Palestinians, providing Hamas with a base in Turkey, refusing to condemn Hamas terrorism, and handing out cash to Palestinians in Jerusalem. Turkey’s alleged request of Hamas leaders to leave is due to external pressure, not ideological disagreement.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Hamas Leaders in Turkey

Turkey’s harboring of Hamas’ top leadership is well documented. Hamas’ leaders, including Khaled Mashal, Ismail Haniyeh, and Saleh al-Arouri, have openly met with Erdogan many times. Ankara has provided Arouri and Haniyeh with residency and Turkish passports, which have allowed them to travel internationally unhindered. Arouri, Hamas’ West Bank chief, is a U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head. He celebrated Hamas’ October 7 massacre on social media and is likely one of the masterminds of the attacks. 

Material Support for Hamas

Turkey may also be providing military support to Hamas. In July, Israeli authorities seized 16 tons of explosive material that originated in Turkey and were bound for Gaza, apparently intended for Hamas rockets. While Ankara often declares its desire to “normalize” ties with Israel, Erdogan’s government remains a primary source of support for Hamas and other jihadist entities throughout the region.

Even if the Hamas leadership has departed Turkey, there is nothing to stop them from coming back. The press rumors, if true, do not address the fundamental issue of Hamas’ institutional presence inside Turkey. There is also no indication that Ankara has revoked the Turkish passports of Hamas leaders. Likewise, their reported departure does not affect the terrorist group’s ability to continue sourcing raw materials from Turkey to use for manufacturing more rockets.

Why Erdogan is Unlikely to Cut Ties with Hamas,” by Sinan Ciddi

Erdogan’s Damning Response to the Hamas Attacks,” by Sinan Ciddi

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

Erdogan’s Love for Hamas Threatens Israel,” by Sinan Ciddi


Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics Turkey