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Turkey imposes trade restrictions on Israeli products till Gaza ceasefire, Israel responds

Turkey has announced restrictions on 54 Israeli products including cement, steel and iron construction materials, till a ceasefire in Gaza is reached. In a tit-for-tat move, Israel responded by announcing curbs on products from Turkey, accusing it of supporting Hamas.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: April 09, 2024 18:19 IST
Turkey, trade restrictions, Israel, Israel hamas war
Image Source : REUTERS Turkey has been one of the harshest critics of Israel's operations in Gaza, which has killed over 33,000 people.

Ankara: The Turkish government has imposed trade restrictions on a range of products from Israel starting from Tuesday, according to the trade ministry, in response to the ongoing war in Gaza that has devastated the coastal Palestinian enclave and killed tens and thousands of people. After an initially cautious response, Turkey has heavily condemned Israel's military operation in Gaza and said the restrictions will continue until a ceasefire is reached.

Turkey will put restrictions on 54 Israeli products including cement, steel and iron construction materials, according to The Times of Israel. "This decision will remain in place until Israel declares a ceasefire immediately and allows adequate and uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza," the Turkish trade ministry announced on social media. 

The Trade Ministry said the measures would apply to the export of products from 54 different categories, including iron, marble, steel, cement, aluminium, brick, fertilizer, construction equipment and products, aviation fuel, and more. This comes as Ankara has called for an immediate ceasefire, supported steps to try Israel for genocide, and sent thousands of tons of aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel responds in a tit-for-tat move

Israel said it would impose its own restrictions on products from Turkey, including exports of steel, fertilizer and jet fuel. Responding to the measures, Israel's foreign minister Israel Katz said Turkey had "unilaterally violated" trade agreements with Israel. Katz said that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan "is again sacrificing the economic interests of the people of Turkey in order to support Hamas, and we will respond in kind".

“Israel will not submit to violence and blackmail and will not complain about the unilateral violation of the trade agreements and will take parallel measures against Turkey that will harm the Turkish economy," Katz added. Turkey’s exports to Israel stood at $5.43 billion last year, down from $7.03 billion in 2022, according to the Turkish Exporters’ Union and statistics agency Turkstat.

Turkey's decision also comes after it warned of taking measures following Israel's rejection of its request to take part in an aid airdrop for Gaza. Relations between Turkey and Israel have been frosty for years, although trade ties between the two countries are strong.

Turkey is among the strongest critics of Israel's military actions in Gaza. Erdogan has repeatedly called for an immediate cease-fire and accused Israel of committing genocide in its military campaign in Gaza, calling the former a "terrorist state".

Israel-Turkey tensions

Turkey has denounced Israel for its campaign on Gaza, which was launched following the October 7 attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas, who killed 1,200 people and took over 250 hostages. However,  Ankara also maintained commercial ties with Israel despite its strong rhetoric, prompting a domestic backlash.

In recent weeks, Erdogan has faced growing criticism over his government's continuing commercial ties to Israel, prompting some anti-government protests and denting popular support. On Saturday, police in Istanbul detained dozens of protestors demanding an end to the trade with Israel. Erdogan's stance toward Israel and the conflict in Gaza was a key factor for some of his party's losses in the March 31 local elections, with the Islamist New Welfare Party (Yeniden Refah) gaining support on the back of a more hardline stance on Gaza.

As the war began, both countries recalled their ambassadors as Erdogan said that his country is making preparations to declare Israel a 'war criminal' for its relentless attacks in the Gaza Strip. The Turkish President also compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler and likened Israel's operations in Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis.

Israel was a long-time regional ally of Turkey before Erdogan came to power, but ties imploded after a 2010 Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, part of a blockade-busting flotilla, that left dead 10 Turkish activists. Although relations between the two countries improved, both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018 amid violence in Gaza and the Trump administration’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.

(with inputs from agencies)

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