Turkish media stated that on Wednesday, 44 persons were arrested in Turkey for allegedly having connections to the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
In addition to many private investigators and Ismail Yetimoglu, the director of a private detective agency, those detained appear to be primarily Turkish citizens. No Israelis were arrested.
Turkish media reports that those detained have been charged with following Palestinians and groups sympathetic to Palestine inside Turkey. Israel has not commented on the arrests in the media.
As the two nations recently exchanged ambassadors for the first time in years, relations between Turkey and Israel are at an especially favorable stage.
The cooperation between Mossad and MIT, the Turkish intelligence service, was hailed as crucial in foiling a plot by an Iranian-backed terror cell to target Israeli tourists in Istanbul this past spring.
Nevertheless, Turkey has kept up its tight ties to the leadership of Hamas and other organizations that Israel views as terrorist organizations.
Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a Turkey expert at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, says, “this is a very clear warning to Israel that normalization does not mean you can act against Palestinians inside Turkish territory.”
Turkey has already detained people by citing alleged collaboration by Mossad. An Israeli couple was imprisoned in Turkey for eight days last year for photographing the Dolmabahce castle in Istanbul.
The palace, which served as the residence of the Ottoman Empire’s last sultans from 1856 until its disintegration in 1922, is primarily a tourist destination, although it also houses the Turkish president’s Istanbul headquarters.
The two Israelis were accused of conducting military and political espionage.