Turkey has replaced Iran as Hamas' top financial backer since 2012, sources in Israel's intelligence community tell WorldTribune.com.
Relations between Iran and Hamas became strained because the terrorist group decided to fight against the Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria's ongoing civil war. Iran responded by curtailing aid to Hamas, which has reportedly been recently restored.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government helped fill the void by transferring $250 million from private donor to Hamas, the report said. Israeli sources say the money has been transferred with "full coordination with Erdogan and his aides."
Turkey, a NATO state, has also have hosted Salah al-Arouri, a member of the Hamas politburo, whom the Israeli sources say runs operations and cash transfers, largely to the West Bank.
Erdogan has openly supported Hamas, meeting with top Hamas figures such as Khaled Meshaal, who heads the terrorist group's politburo, and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Meshaal reportedly spoke with Erdogan about relocating the terrorist group's headquarters from Qatar to Turkey.
His support for the terrorist group corresponds with an increasingly hostile tone toward Israel, once a close Turkish ally. He has called Zionism, the belief in a Jewish state, "a crime against humanity."
In 2011, Erdogan called for United Nations sanctions against Israel in protest of a raid on a Turkish-flagged ship that tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Nine activists were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara. Erdogan was not swayed by a United Nations investigation which found that Israel's blockade, implemented to prevent arms from reaching Hamas terrorists, was legitimate and legal.
Erdogan rejects the U.S. and E.U. designations of Hamas as a terrorist group and describes it as a "political party" instead. In 2011, he told PBS's Charlie Rose that Hamas as "a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation."
In October, the Washington Post reported that Turkey gave Iran the identities of 10 Iranians who met with Israeli Mossad officers inside Turkey last year.
American law prohibits providing financial support to terrorist groups. And such support has contributed to placing states such as Iran and Syria on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. The 2012 report on terror-sponsoring states include at least two, Syria and Sudan, due to support for terrorist groups such as Hamas.
Erdogan's government has been shaken by recent corruption allegations, and last spring he violently broke up peaceful protests in a major Turkish park by people opposed to a redevelopment plan. But it is his support for terrorists that should cause concern over Turkey's reliability as a Western ally.