The Turkish police arrested this Tuesday 34 suspected of spying for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services, accused of planning attacks on foreigners residing in Turkey, said the Turkish Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya. The police operation took place in eight provinces of the country and the security services continue to search for 12 other suspects. According to Yerlikaya, the Israeli intelligence services were planning actions such as “following”, “attacking” or “kidnapping” “foreigners residing in Turkey.

Agents from the Turkish secret services also participated in the investigation, dubbed ‘operation Mole’, who analyzed 57 homes. At the moment the nationality of the detainees has not been revealed, although the official Anadolu agency noted that they are accused of “international espionage” for Israel. The agency shared images of the operation that showed police raiding residences and handcuffing suspects. According to Yerlikaya, more than 150,000 euros in cash and an unregistered weapon were found.

The police operation comes a month after the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel was planning to kill members of Hamas leadership abroad. In a subsequent press meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel that it would not allow attacks against members of the Palestinian militia on Turkish soil. “If they dare to take such a step against Turkey, they will be condemned to pay the price in a way that they will never be able to rise again,” he noted. “Those who attempt such a thing must not forget that the consequences could be extremely serious,” he warned.

Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization and has allowed part of the organization’s top militants to reside on Turkish soil in recent years. Important members of the organization moved from Syria to Turkey in 2012, after Hamas condemned the war started by Bashar Assad against its population.

Turkey does not provide logistical or financial support to Hamas, but it has not pushed them outside its borders either. Since the beginning of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Erdogan has condemned the actions of the Israeli army and has stressed that he considers Hamas a “liberation group fighting to protect its lands and its citizens.” The Turkish president asked to try Israel for “war crimes” before the International Criminal Court in The Hague and has pointed out that “there is no difference” between the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The Gaza war ended a recent improvement in diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel. The rapprochement occurred after ten years of diplomatic distancing, due to the Israeli attack on a Turkish ship transporting aid to Gaza, killing ten civilians in 2010. Following the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Turkey has recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv in protest, while Israel has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Turkey for security reasons. Since October 7, there have been massive protests in large cities in Turkey, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.