Hamas has been plotting attacks against Israel from Turkey with the President Erdogan "playing host" to the terror group, British newspaper The Telegraph reports.
According to the report, the activities of the group include efforts to recruit suicide bombers, with a reward of $20,000 promised to the families of the attackers, and the assassination of senior Israeli officials, including former Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheikh.
Citing transcripts of Israel Police interrogations, the newspaper says the group is operating out of Istanbul. According to Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, at least 11 senior Hamas members are now living in the city, the report says.
Among that number, the paper says, are seven men freed from Israel prisons as part of the 2011 exchange deal that saw IDF soldier Gilad Shalit returned from captivity in Gaza in return for the release of more than 1,000 security prisoners.
The Hamas men now in the Turkish capital include the head of the cell behind a deadly bombing at the Apropo Cafe in Tel Aviv in 1997, and the Hamas treasurer who was recently targeted by U.S. sanctions.
The terror group is also reportedly to be in touch with the Turkish intelligence agency.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is aware of the group's activities in his country's largest city, the report says, but has given it his blessing to act with minimal restrictions, only asking it to keep away from official institutions.
Both Hamas and Turkish officials denied the report, with Turkey considering Hamas a political party rather than a terrorist group.
Last week, Erdogan hosted the head of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, in Istanbul, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.
Haniyeh also reportedly met with Saleh Arouri, a founding commander of the Hamas military wing who lives in Istanbul and who has a $5 million bounty on his head from U.S. State Department.
Once firm allies, Israsel and Turkey have in the past decade seen their relationship deteriorate. The decline can primarily be dated to May 2010, when IDF troops killed 10 Turkish activists during clashes aboard the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla aiming to break through maritime blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Nonetheless, Jerusalem and Ankara have enjoyed continuous diplomatic ties since Turkey recognized Israel in 1949. These ties have never been severed, although Turkey has on several occasions decided to downgrade them to a lower level of diplomatic representation.