A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for the arrest of 15 suspects who allegedly worked for Israeli spy agency Mossad in Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The suspects, all Arabs, were detained on Oct. 7 by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) following a year-long counterintelligence operation.
The suspects allegedly provided Mossad with information on students — Turkish citizens as well as foreigners — and students who will potentially work in the defense industry.
The main targets of the espionage operation were Palestinians in Turkey and the facilities that hosted them, according to the pro-government Sabah daily.
According to Anadolu, the suspects, who were sent to Maltepe Prison in İstanbul, will face charges of espionage.
Ties between Israel and Turkey have been tense since a Turkish NGO oversaw a flotilla of ships that tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.
There has been no ambassador in either country since May 2018, when the two countries had a bitter falling out, despite strong commercial ties, over Turkey’s reaction to Israeli attacks on Gaza and Washington’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bilateral ties came under further strain when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced Israel’s West Bank annexation plan, vowing to prevent its implementation.