December 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli Authorities Foil Weapons Shipment from Turkey to West Bank

December 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli Authorities Foil Weapons Shipment from Turkey to West Bank

Latest Developments

Israeli authorities foiled an attempt on December 21 to smuggle thousands of weapons parts into the West Bank. According to a joint statement from Israeli police and the Israel Tax Authority, inspectors found automatic weapon and assault rifle components inside an industrial weaving machine that weighed several tons and was 10 meters (33 feet) long. The shipment, which arrived from Turkey to the port of Ashdod, was destined for the West Bank city of Nablus, a hotbed for Palestinian terrorist activity. Authorities also found counterfeit coin molds in the shipment.

With assistance from the Israel Defense Forces, police arrested three suspects on suspicion of trafficking and importing illegal weapons for terrorist activities, including two elderly residents of Nablus and an Arab Israeli resident of Tayibe.

Expert Analysis

“At some point, the international community will wake up to the fact that Turkey has become a state sponsor of terrorism. The country is not just a safe haven for Hamas. It is not just the hub of the Hamas financial portfolio. It is now the transit point for weapons of war bound for violent Palestinian factions. The United States has warned Turkey that it needs to turn off the spigot of Hamas support. Until now, Ankara has steadfastly refused. It is now incumbent upon Washington to impose harsh sanctions, not on more Hamas operatives, but on the government of Turkey itself.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“The latest seizure of weapons originating from Turkey confirms what is already widely known: Turkey is a major conduit for weapons shipments and raw materials to Hamas and possibly other terrorist groups. In July, Israeli authorities seized tons of dual-use materials originating from Turkey used in the making of explosives and rockets. The likelihood of these shipments occurring without the knowledge — or even the blessing — of the Erdogan government is highly unlikely.” Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

Turkey’s Weapons Smuggling

Turkey has become a common jurisdiction of origin for the smuggling of Iranian weapons and explosive material to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. On September 14, Israeli customs authorities revealed that they intercepted 16 tons of explosive material on its way from Turkey to the Gaza Strip in July. According to the Israeli Tax Authority spokesperson, the customs agents in Ashdod inspected two containers that were supposed to contain 54 tons of gypsum — the key ingredient in plaster. After testing the material in a lab, authorities concluded that some of the bags contained ammonium chloride — a dual-use chemical used in making rockets.

Turkey Protects and Supports Palestinian Terrorists

Turkey, a NATO member, has long provided a haven for leaders and members of Palestinian terrorist organizations. Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, and deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau and senior military official Saleh al-Arouri, have openly met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan many times, including in July and October of this year. Ankara has reportedly provided Arouri and Haniyeh with residency and Turkish passports, which would allow them to travel internationally unhindered. Arouri is a U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head. On December 13, the United States and the United Kingdom jointly sanctioned eight additional Hamas finance officials and representatives living in Turkey. They are accused of raising money for the terrorist group.

Following the October 7 massacre, Erdogan has been one of Hamas’s staunchest public supporters. Erdogan has called Hamas “freedom fighters” while labeling Israel a “terrorist state” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “butcher” and “war criminal.” 

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

Israel Intercepts Rocket-Making Material En Route to Gaza From Turkey,” FDD Flash Brief

Why Erdogan Is Unlikely to Cut Ties With Hamas,” by Sinan Ciddi


Israel Israel at War Turkey