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Turkey angry as Israel charges tourist with aiding Hamas

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Israel military prosecutors have charged a jailed Turkish tourist with helping transfer money and packages to the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, in a case that has prompted Ankara to vow retaliation.

27-year-old Ebru Ozkan, who was arrested at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on June 11 while returning to Turkey, was indicted at a military court on Sunday on several counts, including two counts of acting in the service of a proscribed group, one count of transferring money for enemy agents, and one count of threatening public order.

If convicted, she could face several years in prison.

Ozkan is also facing an indictment for smuggling five bottles of perfume to be sold to raise funds for Hamas, which her lawyer mocked as trivial.

In response to that charge, her lawyer Omara Khamaisi told reporters outside the court, “Come on, really?”

“I think that in this case the decision will ultimately be a brave one – to release her, I hope,” Khamaisi added.

The case has further strained ties between Tel Aviv and Ankara.

In June 2016, Israel and Turkey reached an agreement to normalize relations six years after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas and sent their ties spiraling into a cycle of tensions in May 2010.

Their ties sank to a fresh low in May after they expelled their envoys amid growing tensions over the Israeli killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

At the time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended Hamas and slammed Israel’s decades-long crimes against the Palestinian people, saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the blood of Palestinians on his hands.

The lawyer noted that Ozkan had been denied access to legal counsel for most of her detention and had not been interrogated in Turkish, leading to distortions in the way her answers to questions were recorded.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday accused Israel of “taking deterrent measures against our citizens traveling to al-Quds.”

He also urged an end to Israel’s “pitiless persecutions.”

“We will retaliate against this. Our relations will normalize when Israel stops its inhumane policies,” he said.

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