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Turkey suspends trade with Israel over Gaza conflict

May 3, 2024

Ankara said it would continue to impose the measures until Israel allowed an "uninterrupted and sufficient flow" of humanitarian aid to the region.

People hold a Palestinian flag during a pro Palestinians protest outside Hagia Sophia mosque, in Istanbul,
Erdogan has faced with intense pressure at home to halt trade with IsraelImage: Emrah Gurel/AP/picture alliance

Turkey on Thursday suspended all trade with Israel, citing the "worsening humanitarian tragedy" in Gaza.

"Export and import transactions related to Israel have been stopped, covering all products," Turkey's trade ministry said in a statement.

It said the measures would stay in place until Israel allowed "an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza."

The two countries had a trade volume of $6.8 billion (€6.3 billion) in 2023.

Katz blames Erdogan for breaking agreements

Earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of breaking agreements by blocking Israeli exports and imports.

"This is how a dictator behaves, disregarding the interest of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements," Katz wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

He said Israel would create alternatives for trade with Turkey, focusing on local production and imports from other countries.

Thursday's announcement followed last month's curbs on a wide range of exports to Israel by Turkey.

At the time, Turkey said Israel had blocked an attempt by the Turkish air force to drop aid into Gaza.

Turkey and Israel's relationship worsens

Turkey, one of the few Muslim-majority nations to recognize Israel, has seen large protests in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

After years of thawing relations, Turkey has become one of the harshest critics of Israel's military operations in Gaza, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branding Israel a "terrorist state."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh (L) in Istanbul
Erdogan has defended Hamas and been strident in his public criticism of IsraelImage: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/TUR Presidency/Anadolu/picture alliance

On October 7, Hamas members attacked Israel, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people. The militants also took over 200 people hostage.

Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza shortly after to destroy Hamas. The militant group is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, and the EU, among others.

More than 80% of the Gaza Strip's total population of 2.3 million has been displaced by the fighting, and the death toll in Gaza has reached more than 34,500 people.

lo/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)