Turkish Authorities Arrest 33 Suspected Israeli Spies Amid Escalating Tensions

Turkish President Erdoğan said last week that "there is no difference" between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler

by Sededin Dedovic
Turkish Authorities Arrest 33 Suspected Israeli Spies Amid Escalating Tensions
© Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Turkish authorities announced the arrest of 33 people suspected of espionage on behalf of Israel. The arrests, made in different provinces, targeted individuals who allegedly spied on foreign nationals residing in Turkey for Israel's secret services, according to the turkish official Anadolu news agency.

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Jerlikaya claimed in a statement to the X Network that Israeli intelligence services were planning "aggression" or "kidnapping" against foreigners under surveillance. Turkish prosecutors are currently looking for an additional 13 suspects linked to similar espionage activities.

Although the nationalities of those detained remain undisclosed, tensions between Turkey and Israel have escalated in recent months. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinians, has consistently condemned Israel, especially since the conflict with Hamas began on October 7 last year.

Despite the brief thaw in relations in 2022, Erdogan did not shy away from expressing harsh criticism. Last week he drew parallels between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler, underscoring his disapproval of Israel's actions.

Israel advised its citizens to leave that country

In response to the recent arrests, Erdogan condemned the alleged "attempt to sabotage Turkey and its interests" and vowed to put an end to it. Strained relations between the two countries have led Israel to advise its citizens and diplomats in Turkey to leave the country for security reasons by mid-October 2023.

This is not the first case of such arrests. In 2021 and 2022, Turkish police arrested a number of people suspected of spying on Palestinians in Turkey for Israeli intelligence. The background to this tension includes the presence of Hamas members in Istanbul, despite the Turkish authorities demanding their departure after the October 7 attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, which led to war between Israel and Hamas.

Erdogan issued a warning to Israel in early December last year, stressing the "severe consequences" if Hamas members were targeted while on Turkish soil. The ongoing geopolitical tensions emphasize the complex dynamics that are happening in the region, and this case will surely lead to a heated relationship between Turkey and Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu