Three columns of children in a so-called “educational center” built with IHH support
A display called Gaza-Taksim
Bülent Yildirim meets in the Gaza Strip with Ismail Haniya and other important figures
Bülent Yildirim and Ismail Haniya
Three columns of children in a so-called “educational center” built with IHH support at a Hamas summer camp in 2006. They carry signs with the names of Hamas operatives who were killed in confrontations with the IDF (p. 16 in an Arabic booklet found aboard the Mavi Marmara, which deals with the propaganda support the organization gives the Palestinians).
A display called Gaza-Taksim (Taksim is a square in the heart of Istanbul) which took place in March 2009 as part of an IHH campaign in support of the Palestinians. The Banner reads "Thousands [of] regar[d]s to [the] resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] from Istanbul to Gaza" (p. 32 in the Arabic booklet found aboard the Mavi Marmara).
1. This document examines the contents and political implications of a Turkish book and Arabic booklet found aboard the Mavi Marmara. Both publications were issued in 2009 by the Turkish IHH, the organization which led the recent flotilla. The book is entitled Palestine, from the Zionist Idea to the Actuality of the Occupation. It presents the history of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation from a radical Islamic perspective which is one-sided and hostile to Israel. Israel is accused of a generations-long slaughter of Palestinians, begun even before its establishment. Palestinian terrorism is described briefly and favorably as "the Palestinian resistance movement" which is "fighting for independence." Israeli Arabs are represented as "Palestinians" living on "occupied Palestinian lands" [i.e., the State of Israel].
2. The booklet describes IHH’s support for the Palestinian cause, given primarily between the years 2004 and 2009. Most of the material support went to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas. A small amount was earmarked for Judea and Samaria and Israeli Arabs. It also gives some information about IHH activity in the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
3. Some of the aid IHH gave the Palestinians was humanitarian, intended to ease the physical distress of the Palestinian population and improve its economic standing. However, some aspects of the aid, as described in the booklet, also clearly have political implications, such as the large amounts of money and equipment given to the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, donations of money to the families of shaheeds in the Gaza Strip and the construction of houses (possibly of terrorist operatives) to replace those destroyed by Israel in Judea and Samaria. The donations help Hamas’ civilian network, which supports terrorism, and its educational system in the Gaza Strip, which indoctrinates the younger generation with radical Islam and sets them on the path of terrorism ("resistance"). In addition, IHH waged a propaganda campaign in Turkey during the years before Operation Cast Lead, contributing to Turkish hatred of Israel and sympathy for Hamas.
4. The nature of the support described in booklet suggests that IHH operates much the same way as other pro-Hamas "charitable societies" abroad, most of them under the aegis of the Union of Good (of which IHH is a member). The various funds, foundations and organizations send most of the aid to Hamas’ civilian infrastructure in the territories, the source of the movement’s power. The funds help Hamas strengthen its grip on the population by promoting the movement as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority. The civilian infrastructure also supports terrorism, since Hamas exploits it to assist terrorists and their families and to inculcate Hamas’ ideology in its educational system and through the mosques it controls. That was why many "charitable societies" were outlawed by Israel, the United States and several European countries. IHH was outlawed by Israel in July 2008 and by Germany in 2010.1
5. The booklet indicates that IHH aid to the Gaza Strip grew during 2006-2008, the years preceding Operation Cast Lead, and even more so afterwards (2009). The steep increase, which is not described in the booklet (issued in 2009), took place during the first six months of 2010, when IHH participated in the project of sending flotillas to the Gaza Strip and became a leading force in the international coalition of anti-Israeli organizations.
6. The booklet does not explain how IHH sends assistance to the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria and Israeli Arabs. In our assessment that was an IHH political-security consideration, valid in 2009 when the booklet was printed, but weakened during 2010.
7. According to our information, IHH operated as a member of the Union of Good through "charitable societies" affiliated with Hamas in the territories. It also worked directly with the de facto Hamas administration. To that end IHH opened a permanent branch office in Gaza headed by Muhammad Kaya, its contact with the Hamas administration. In Judea and Samaria the IHH contact was Izzat Shahin, who was sent there in November 2009 specifically to open an IHH branch. During his stay he channeled IHH funds to Hamas-affiliated "charitable societies" (tens of thousands of dollars to the Islamic Charity Association in Hebron and Al-Tadhamun in Nablus). The activity was prevented by the Israeli security forces. Shahin was detained for questioning in April 2010 on suspicion of terrorism-funding felonies and support for Hamas, and deported from Israel after his interrogation at the request of the Turkish authorities.
8. Why has IHH focused on investing most of its efforts in the Gaza Strip? In our assessment, there are several considerations shared by IHH and the Islamic Turkish government behind it:
A. First, the humanitarian consideration, manifested, in IHH’s view, by the increasing difficulties of daily life accompanied by the basic poverty of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (difficulties which were made worse after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip because of its rocket attacks on Israel and international isolation).
B. Second, the ideological consideration, mainly IHH’s basic identification with Hamas’ radial Islamist ideology originating with the Muslim Brotherhood, whose ideology is very close to IHH’s.
C. Third, the security consideration, the result of the difficulties IHH faces in Judea, Samaria and Israel, and possibly in other Palestinian arenas.
D. In addition, there is a political consideration, the result of the Islamic Turkish government’s regional policies, whose goal is to establish Turkey’s status in the regional arena at the expense of its relations with Israel. As a result, it regards supporting Hamas as a way of increasing its popularity in the Arab-Muslim world and in the "resistance" camp in the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas).
9. In the two publications issued before the deterioration of Israeli-Turkish relations, IHH did not openly support Hamas, but its sympathy for the movement and its radical Islamic ideology could be read between the lines.
10. However, during the first six months of 2010 IHH’s support for the de facto Hamas administration became overt and its pro-Hamas activities became more evident and aggressive: At the end of 2009 IHH joined the Viva Palestina aid convoy and its activists confronted the Egyptian security forces in January 2010. IHH leader Bülent Yildirim was eventually permitted to enter the Gaza Strip and met with Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas administration on January 7, 2010. At the end of May IHH led an upgraded flotilla where its operatives waged a violent, premeditated battle with IDF soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara. In the public sphere, on March 21, 2010, Bülent Yildirim gave a speech to supporters in one of Istanbul’s suburbs, where he praised Hamas, which he represented as the innocent victim of Israel and world forces stronger than itself.2
Bülent Yildirim meets in the Gaza Strip with Ismail Haniya and other important figures (January 7, 2010). 4
Bülent Yildirim and Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip January 7, 2010).3
11. The two appendices of this document analyze the contents of the booklet and book found aboard the Mavi Marmara:
A. Appendix I – The contents of the IHH Arabic booklet about its support for the Palestinians
B. Appendix II – Palestine, from the Zionist Idea to the Actuality of the Occupation, a book about the Palestinian cause published by IHH.
1 For further information about the ideological dimension of transferring Islamic charity funds to finance terrorism, see Appendix II in the September 19, 2010 bulletin "The Iranian media publicized an interview with an Iranian expert on Palestine who visited Turkey and met with IHH operatives" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e130.htm.
2 For further information see the September 5, 2010 bulletin, "In a speech given by IHH leader Bülent Yildirim two months prior to the Marmara flotilla, he presented a radical Islamic ideology with anti-Western and anti-Israeli motifs" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e130.htm.
3 http://hurryupharry.org/2010/04/14/oh-jesus and http://www.velfecr.com/gazze-de-goz-yasartan-buyuk-bulusma-video-foto-1408-haberi.html