The Daily Beast on Tuesday conveyed assessments from a range of Israeli officials and U.S.-based experts linking the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers to Saleh al-Arouri – a top Hamas official who sits atop the group’s terror infrastructure in the West Bank – who has reportedly been allowed to operate freely in Turkey, a dynamic that the outlet noted risked undermining efforts to bridge diplomatic gaps between Jerusalem and Ankara:
“The Israelis say he was one of the key operational leaders who has been calling for and overseeing these various kidnapping plots over the past two years,” said Matthew Levitt, the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism & Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It’s not that he was necessarily on the phone with these kidnappers, but kidnapping in general has been a key focus for Hamas operatives in the last two years and al-Arouri has been encouraging it.”
The piece also had Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, straightforwardly noting that “any attack that takes place in the West Bank will ultimately raise questions about [Arouri’s] involvement.”
Earlier this month, an Israeli security official told veteran Arab affairs journalist Avi Issacharoff that Arouri was a key figure in the abductions of three Israeli teenagers who were subsequently murdered.
Schanzer also on Tuesday blasted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who this week announced his candidacy for the country’s presidency, for among other things making Turkey a “safe haven for Hamas & other reckless activity.”
[Photo: Brookings Institution / YouTube]