Turkey Blows Israeli Spy Cover in Retaliation

A billboard in Ankara reads, "We are grateful to you," referring to President Netanyahu's apology for the deaths of 9 Turkish activists in the May 2010 flotilla incident

JERUSALEM (Reuters)—Turkey deliberately blew the cover of an Israeli spy ring working inside Iran in early 2012 and dealt a significant blow to Israeli intelligence gathering, according to a report in The Washington Post on Thursday.

There was no immediate comment from Israel or Turkey, but Israeli ministers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of adopting an anti-Israeli stance in recent years to bolster his country’s standing in the Muslim world.

Once-strong relations between Turkey and Israel hit the rocks in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists who were seeking to break Israel’s long-standing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Israel apparently used to run part of its Iranian spy network out of Turkey, giving Turkish secret services the opportunity to monitor their movements. The paper quoted U.S. officials as saying Israel believed that the Turks would never turn on the Jewish state after years of cooperation.

However, it said that in early 2012 Erdogan disclosed to Tehran the identities of 10 Iranians who had traveled to Turkey to meet Israeli spies.

In April 2012, Iran announced that it had broken up a large Israeli spy network and arrested 15 suspects. It was not clear if this was connected to the alleged Turkish leak.

Iran has long accused Israel of spying inside the Islamic Republic and of killing a string of Iranian nuclear scientists – the last in January 2012. Israel and the West accuse Iran of looking to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies this.

Failed reconciliation

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin declined to comment on theWashington Post report, but said relations with Turkey were “very complex.”

“The Turks made a strategic decision… to seek the leadership of our region, in the Middle East, and they chose the convenient anti-Israeli card in order to build up leadership,” he told Israel Radio.

Energy Minister Silvan Shalom also declined to comment, but told Israel Radio that after unrest shook the Arab world in 2011, Erdogan had sought to win “legitimization as the undisputed leader of the new revolution.”

The United States tried to broker a reconciliation between its allies Turkey and Israel in March, persuading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize for the 2010 killings.

However, Israeli officials said subsequent attempts to build bridges by agreeing on a deal to compensate families of those killed in the Israeli naval raid had floundered.

“The only thing that we have achieved since March is to show the Americans that Erdogan is not remotely interested in a reconciliation,” said an Israeli diplomat, who declined to be named given the sensitivity surrounding the issue.

Shortly after the 2010 incident off the shores of Gaza, the then-Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak voiced concern that Turkey could share Israeli intelligence secrets with Iran.

“There are quite a few secrets of ours [entrusted to Turkey] and the thought that they could become open to the Iranians over the next several months… is quite disturbing,” Israel’s Army Radio quoted him as saying in August 2010.


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  1. Arto said:

    For years, Jewish lobbies in the US covered for the Turks in Hollywood and Congress for perpetrating the Armenian Genocide. Now finally Israel sees the Turks for what they really are… a duplicitous and genocidal nation. Shame, shame on Jews for doing the dirty work for the Turks in denying the Armenian Genocide.

    A groundbreaking book by independent scholar and historian Rifat Bali was published recently in Turkey, unearthing facts and first-hand accounts that unmistakably illustrate how the Turkish establishment blackmailed the leaders of the Jewish community—and through them Jewish organizations in the United States—to secure their support of the Turkish position against the Armenians’ campaign for genocide recognition. The title of the book, Devlet’in Ornek Yurttaslari –Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri 1950-2003, can be roughly translated into English as “The Model Citizens of the State–Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1950-2003.”

    • Martin said:

      You’re making it sound as if those Jewish lobbies were duped into it. They knew exactly what they were doing and were serving the interests of Israel simultaneously. Don’t let them off the hook so easily.

  2. tsoghig said:

    These countries like Israel and the US are learning the hard way what we have been shouting from the rooftops for decades.

  3. beirutstsi said:

    turks and iranians have soo much money we’re armenians not rich like them

  4. Halil M Ustundag said:

    What a load of bologne. The AKP party is one of the most pro-Israel parties in Turkey, even more so then the CHP and MHP. What happened at Davos was a hysterical set up theatrical show to fool the Middle East to conceal the real plan for the AKP to invade Syria with the alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. There are pictures of Erdogan shaking hands with Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon and even Shimon Peres. There is even pictures of him with Abdullah Gul and Shimon Peres having an honorary dinner for Shimon Peres at the Ankara presidential palace. AKP has a goal of implementing the Greater Middle East project, bottom line.

  5. Arn..Sweden. said:

    Hopefullt Israel will now abandon Turkey completely.
    As a Serbian Prohet has said – ” Turkey will move its Capital to Mecka ” !.

    The Obama Policy dont work anywhere in the Mideast,
    He is a Complete Failure and Idiot !.