Israel deports Turkish woman indicted for smuggling funds for Hamas

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) confirmed on Monday that Israel has freed and deported a Turkish woman who the IDF prosecution had indicted on July 8 for smuggling funds for Hamas.

The confirmation comes following reports from the Turkish news agency Anadolu on Sunday night that Turkish citizen Ebru Ozkan, who was arrested in Israel on June 11 at Ben-Gurion Airport, was going back home after being deported by the Israeli authorities.

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Ozkan was deported despite sources indicating the indictment against her was still open and pending, leaving the question as to why Israel took the trouble to indict her if she was ultimately released and deported without having to face charges against her.

It was also unclear if there were different opinions among different authorities about how to handle her situation, but sources indicated that the Prime Minister’s Office had dictated the result. In certain cases, the prime minister may overrule law enforcement regarding dealing with defendants whose trial may also involve diplomatic concerns.

The PMO had not responded by press time.

The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the indictment, which states that Ozkan’s with members of Hamas started at the Ru’a’a Center, where she had worked.

In one instance, the indictment stated that Hamas operative Abd al-tif Sada allegedly guided her about smuggling items for Hamas through airport security, advising her to place the items in her checked luggage and not in her carry-on.

Sada also instructed her to deny knowledge of the items or to claim she purchased them in Turkey in the event that they were uncovered.

He also told her that when giving the smuggled items to the Hamas operative from the West Bank, she should use the code phrase, “These are the chocolates from your friend who you gave money to,” in order to make sure both sides could trust each other.

The indictment alleged that these and other events – such as meeting in hidden and suspicious places and learning that Sada was working at the Ru’a’a Center with members of Hamas – made it clear to Ozkan that she was aiding the terrorist organization.

In contrast, Anadolu wrote that the arrest was “groundless” and that the information came from a “presidential aide.”

Omar Khamaysa, who was Ozkan’s lawyer, claimed she had no idea she was helping members of Hamas and not regular Palestinians.

Exiled Turkish reporter Abdullah Bozkurt stated on social media that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Ozkan to offer his best wishes after her release.

Despite being a Turkish national and not a resident of the West Bank, Ozkan was tried in the Samaria Military Court because her alleged crimes impacted that region the Post reported in early July.

Israel has arrested several Turkish citizens in the past year on security-related offenses.

In January, Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish citizen and a law lecturer, just before he was due to board a plane at Ben-Gurion Airport on suspicion of laundering money to Hamas members doing business in Turkey. He was deported on February 11.

Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.