November 23, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10979

Hamas: Two Operatives With Turkish Citizenship Have Been Killed In Southern Lebanon, Including The Son Of A Mujahid Who Fought In Afghanistan And Chechnya

November 23, 2023
Lebanon, Palestinians, Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 10979

On November 22, 2023, Hamas announced that four of its operatives were killed in southern Lebanon in an Israeli airstrike. Notably, two of the operatives were Turkish nationals: Yakup Erdal and Seyfullah Bilal Öztürk, while the other two were Lebanese: Ahmad Oudh and Khaled Minawi.

According to reports in Arab and Turkish media, the four were killed along with Khalil Hamad Kharaz Abu Khaled, commander of the Lebanese branch of Hamas's military wing, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, who was responsible for the Brigades' missile unit in southern Lebanon.[1] The Turkish operatives' apparent proximity to Abu Khaled suggests that they were major operatives of Hamas' military wing in Lebanon.

It should also be noted that Seyfullah Bilal Öztürk's father is a jihad fighter who fought in Afghanistan and Chechnya, as reported by a news website that interviewed him.

Several days after its deadly invasion of southern Israel on October 7, 2023, Hamas declared that it was taking military action against Israel from southern Lebanon. The statement announcing the death of the Turkish operatives is the first time this organization has openly declared that foreign militants participate in these operations. This may be an indication of the scope of Hamas's military activity in southern Lebanon, which has effectively become a Hamas stronghold. The statement also raises questions regarding a possible involvement of the Turkish government in Hamas's operations in Lebanon.

The following is a review of the reports about the death of the two Turkish Hamas operatives.

Hamas: The Turkish Operatives Were Killed "Helping Our Palestinian People"; Reports: They Were Killed Along With The Al-Qassam Brigades Commander In Lebanon

Hamas' statement announcing the death of the four operatives begins with the Quranic verse (3:169): "Do not think of those martyred in the cause of Allah as dead, for in fact they are alive, by their Lord sustained." It goes on to say that Hamas is proud to announce to the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation, and to "the two fraternal nations – the Lebanese and the Turkish people," that four martyrs "from Lebanon and Turkey" were killed a November 21 "Zionist" airstrike in southern Lebanon "while carrying out their duty of solidarity and of aiding our Palestinian people."

"The brave martyrs," the statement continues, "expressed their love for Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, and Palestine, and their esteem for their brothers in the Gaza Strip," and adds the "Nazi Zionist" airstrike in which they were killed will not deter the youth of the nation or the "free people of the world" from continuing to aid and support the Palestinian people "until the Nazi occupation is expelled from our land and from our holy sites."[2]

The Hamas statement does not provide any additional details about the Turkish operatives or about the location of the airstrike, but the Turkish news website Haksoz Haber reported that the two men "came from Turkey to support their Palestinian brothers" and were killed in a vehicle with Abu Khaled, the commander of the Lebanese branch of Hamas's military wing.[3]

Father Of One Of The Slain Turkish Operatives: I Am Proud Of Him, I Too Waged Jihad, In Afghanistan And Chechnya

Ömer Öztürk, the father of Seyfullah Bilal Öztürk, said: "His mother and I raised our children exactly for days such as there. We are proud to receive the news of his martyrdom. I myself waged jihad against the enemies of Islam in Afghanistan and Chechnya for years. [My son] has attained what I did not attain. I hope that we too die as martyrs."

The Haksoz Haber report also said that Öztürk, originally from Edirne in northwestern Turkey, will be buried in Lebanon, and called on readers to recite the Islamic burial prayer for the two Turkish Hamas operatives and for "all the martyrs in Gaza."[4]

According to a statement by Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Khaled, who came from the Al-Rashidya Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, "supported and aided the resistance inside and outside [the Palestinian territories] and had an impact in the field… He had been active in all the battlefields of jihad for several decades."[5]

According to the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abu Khaled was responsible for the Al-Qassam Brigades' missile unit in southern Lebanon.[6]

Arab Media Reports: Lebanon's Security Agencies Were Unaware Of The Presence Of Turkish Nationals In The Border Area

According to the Lebanese Al-Mudun daily, the Lebanese security services had no knowledge about the presence of Turkish nationals among the fighters on the border with Israel. The daily said that, according to assessments, the fighters in the vehicle were gathering intelligence ahead of a missile attack against Israel, or perhaps were on their way to meet other Hamas fighters in southern Lebanon and assist them.[7]

A "Lebanese security source" told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that "the justification given for their presence in Lebanon was that they were bringing aid to the Palestinian refugee camps," although the airstrike took place near the Lebanese border with Israel, far from any refugee camp.[8]


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 22, 2023.

[2], November 22, 2023.

[3] Al-Mudun (Lebanon) also reported on November 22 that the two Turkish operatives were killed in the same airstrike that Abu Khaled was killed in.

[4], November 22, 2023.

[5], November 22, 2023.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 22, 2023.

[7] Al-Mudun (Lebanon), November 22, 2023.

[8] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 22, 2023.

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