In a written statement dated January 27, Hamas claimed that several associations that were long a part of its organization have been seized by certain individuals. Originally established to serve Palestine, these organizations in Turkey are now allegedly being exploited for personal gain. According to Hamas, they have launched aid campaigns for Jerusalem and Gaza, using letters of recommendation from esteemed Islamic scholars. The donations collected have reportedly not reached their intended recipients or fulfilled their designated purpose.
Hamas also called on Turkish donors who have “embraced Al-Aqsa as their cause” to cease all cooperation with those “harming the cause of Gaza, Palestine and Jerusalem,” urging the discontinuation of any partnerships with those undermining the sacred struggle carried out by the people of Gaza on behalf of the entire Muslim community, or Ummah.
Hamas’s statement indicated that issues with these individuals and organizations have been ongoing for the past two years. The statement said, “Despite years of dedicated service within our organization, these individuals have deviated from our main principles. By seizing control of certain associations affiliated with our organization, they have established a parallel structure, exploiting the sufferings of the wounded people of Jerusalem and Gaza for their personal gain and organizing aid campaigns.”
“Despite our efforts over the past two years to address the problems with these individuals and organizations, the malicious intentions of those responsible have hindered our attempts at solving problems. Therefore, with great regret, we must announce the termination of all ties with these associations and individuals and affirm that we no longer have any connection with them,” the statement reads.
After the statement appeared in the Turkish media, some social media users expressed their surprise and skepticism about its authenticity. However, the organizations accused, in responding to the statement, issued clarifications confirming the authenticity of the announcement by not questioning the document’s validity.
Ümmet Vakfı (Ummet Foundation), one of the organizations mentioned in the statement, has denied the allegations. In a written statement published on its website and social media accounts, it emphasized that since its establishment, the foundation has had no affiliation with any political party, movement or group, regardless of its title or status. The foundation affirmed its compliance with the laws of the Republic of Turkey and highlighted that its administrators are Turkish citizens. The Turkish version of the statement included periodic financial inspections by the Turkish state, while the English version specified that the foundation is subject to monthly audits.STATEMENT OF UMMET WAQF
Two executive board members of Ümmet Vakfı, Khaldoun Hegazy (aka Haldun Hejazi) and Sameer Saeed Mohammad Issa (aka Samir Said), and the president of its board of trustees Ahmad Al-Omari (aka Şeyh Ahmed Ömeri) are cited in Hamas’s statement as individuals who are no longer in a relationship with the organization.
Ümmet Vakfı, established in November 2013 to serve Jerusalem residents and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is a member of the National Will Platform (Milli İrade Platformu), formed by NGOs that are supported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In May, following the election victory of Erdogan’s ruling party, the foundation paid a congratulatory visit and met with party Vice Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş, who was elected speaker of parliament in June.
Ümmet Vakfı’s executive board includes individuals who later became Turkish citizens. Some of them are also members and executives of several other Islamist associations and foundations. Ümmet Vakfı has close relationships with Islamist and jihadist foundations and scholars that support the Erdogan government. Currently, the foundation is conducting a drive to collect donations for winter clothing, heaters and carpets for Gaza.
Another organization mentioned in Hamas’s statement is the Hepimiz Meryemiz Platformu (We Are All Maryam Platform), which operates in some 40 Muslim countries. Ayşegül Bayıcı, who serves as the Turkey president of the platform, is also a member of the executive board of Ümmet Vakfı. Bayıcı reacted on X to the allegations against the accused associations, claiming that the statement is fabricated due to the absence of a seal. She stated that Hamas does not have a role in directing aid in Turkey and emphasized that they will protect their legal rights regarding fake news. The We Are All Maryam Platform also issued a written statement declaring that they are not affiliated with any political group and adding that they do not engage in any fundraising activities.
In 2021 First Lady Emine Erdogan participated in a platform activity where she delivered a speech, stating that the resolution of the Palestinian issue relies on the awakening of the international community and the revival of the Muslim Ummah.
Minber-i Aksa Derneği (Minbar al-Aqsa Association), established in 2018, emphasized in its statement that it is a Turkish organization and explicitly stated that it has no connection with any political entity. The announcement highlighted the support of prominent Islamic figures from the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), a Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization funded by Qatar as well as IUMS’s Turkish representative, considering their contributions to be of great importance.
Additionally, it was emphasized that the chair of the Institute of Islamic Thought and former head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez, who is a close associate of Erdogan, is the honorary president of the association.
The endorsement of the association by Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, a religious leader and former grand mufti of Jerusalem, who is also president of the Jerusalem Higher Islamic Council, was emphasized as a great honor for the organization. It is worth noting that Sabri is known for his close relations and frequent meetings with President Erdogan. Minber-i Aksa is actively involved in fundraising activities for Palestine.
Ümmet Vakfı and Minber-i Aksa Derneği, accused of misconduct and corruption, were mentioned in news articles in the Turkish press in 2021. The reports indicated that Mossad agents targeting Palestinian associations in Turkey were apprehended by the Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT).opt-minber-i-aksa-dernegi-tezviratlara-yonelik-aciklama-MPVOUL3W769FPX6GVA78
The accused organizations’ denial of being associated with Hamas is noteworthy, particularly in rejecting any connection with the highly popular and well supported organization in Turkey’s Islamic community, rather than focusing on allegations of corruption and misuse of donations.
It is obvious that Turkey-based organizations do not want to face situations such as international sanctions and frozen accounts from countries that designate Hamas as a terrorist organization
Following the statement attributed to Hamas, discussions within the Islamic community on social media in Turkey indicate that the political conflict between Fatah and Hamas, two main political parties in the Palestinian territories, also exists in Turkey.