- Analysts: Pressure on Ankara builds after revelations that Hamas coup masterminded by Turkey-based terror chief
Officials from Israel's Shin Bet security agency revealed Monday morning that they had uprooted a Hamas plot - involving terror cells spread across at least 46 different Palestinian communities, and masterminded by a top Hamas operative housed in Turkey - to trigger a wave of violence that would destabilize the region, derail Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, and pull off a military coup that would see the US-backed Fatah faction supplanted in the West Bank by Hamas. A senior Shin Bet source who spoke to reporters described the plot's scope and infrastructure, which appear to have been almost half a decade in the making, as among "the biggest we’ve seen... since Hamas's formation in 1987." Other sources revealed that Israel had already seized $600,000, dozens of firearms plus stockpiles of ammunition, and seven rocket launchers to be used in generating the violence. At the center of the plot is Saleh al-Arouri, a long-time Hamas figure who resides in Turkey. Arouri had long ago been identified as having "sole control" over efforts to rebuild Hamas's West Bank terror infrastructure, and U.S. officials had reportedly expressed concerns at the "highest levels" that the Turks were allowing him to operate from their soil. Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted last September that Ankara's behavior might qualify Turkey as a state sponsor of terrorism. The recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists - part of a violent escalation in the West Bank that ran in parallel to the rocket and tunnel escalation out of the Gaza Strip - was quickly linked to Arouri. The Daily Beast eventually published an extended backgrounder suggesting that the Hamas figure would have been overseeing that and other similar gambits. Journalists on Monday had already begun to press the State Department on its stance toward Turkey in light of the developments. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked about the controversy at the top of the daily press conference, and promised to check on Foggy Bottom's response. The Washington Free Beacon quoted Schanzer late Monday worrying that "NATO and the State Department have yet to raise this issue with Turkey" and that "it is not appropriate for a U.S. ally or a NATO ally to be providing Hamas operatives with safe haven."
US-born Donald Sanford runs 400m race in 45.27 seconds; snags first running medal for Israel in history of the championships. Israeli-American athlete Donald Sanford won bronze for Israel at the recent European Athletics Championships in Zurich, with a time of 45.27 in the 400 meter race. He also snagged headlines for improving his own record and for winning the first running medal for Israel in the history of the championships. Israel holds two other medals in the championships, after pole vaulter Alex Averbukh jumped to gold in 2002 and 2006. Sanford met his future Israeli wife when he was at Arizona State University. They were married in 2008. In 2012, Sanford represented Israel at the Olympics. (via Israel21c)
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