Türkiye restricts export of products to Israel in face of public anger

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Editorial credit: Siarhei Liudkevich / Shutterstock.com

In the face of domestic anger against Türkiye’s continuing strong economic ties with Israel, Ankara has restricted the export of certain products to the Zionist state until it implements a ceasefire and allows more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The move comes after a protest in Istanbul on Saturday when police detained dozens of protestors demanding an end to the trade with Israel, and as the government works to restore popular support after a thumping opposition win in local elections.

Erdogan’s stance toward Israel was a key factor for some of his party’s losses in the vote, with the Islamic-oriented New Welfare Party (Yeniden Refah) increasing its support on the back of a more hardline stance on Gaza.

Türkiye’s Trade Ministry said on Tuesday that it would restrict exports of a wide range of products to Israel, including several types of aluminum and steel products, paint, electric cables, construction materials, fuel and other materials.

“Israel continues to flagrantly violate international law and ignores the international community’s numerous calls for ceasefire and uninterrupted humanitarian aid,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said that resolutions by the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council in addition to the interim injunction decisions by the International Court of Justice all “obliged Israel to reach a ceasefire.”

Flags of Turkey and Israel

Tel Aviv must “in full cooperation with the UN, allow the uninterrupted provision of all basic humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including the medical supplies and health services they need,” it added.

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“Türkiye has decided to restrict the export of products to Israel under the product groups specified in the annex, as a first move, as of April 9, 2024. The requirements of this decision will be immediately implemented,” the ministry said. The annex listed several types of aluminum and steel products, paint, electric cables, construction materials, fuel, and other materials.

“This decision will remain in effect until Israel, within the framework of its obligations arising from international law, declares an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and allows a sufficient and uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said, adding that Türkiye “has not allowed the sale of any product or service that can be used for military purposes to Israel” since a long time.

“Within the framework of the grave situation in the Gaza Strip, our call to all members of the international community is to do their part to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations arising from international law,” the ministry reiterated.

“As the state and people of the Republic of Türkiye, we will continue to stand by and support Palestine and its people, as we have done so far.”

Since October 7 Turkey has denounced Israel for its war on Gaza, withdrawn its ambassador, called for an immediate ceasefire, supported steps to try Israel for genocide, and sent thousands of tons of aid for Gazans.

But according to data published by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), while trade with Israel has fallen since October 7, exports to Israel have increased each month in 2024 so far, and were worth $423.2 million in March.

Total exports in the first quarter of the year amounted to $1.1 billion, down 21.6% year-on-year, TIM data showed.

Israel has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians since an October 7 cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas which claimed 1,200 lives.

Much of Gaza’s infrastructure has since been destroyed, and 1.9 million of its residents forcibly displaced, leaving them at risk of disease and famine.

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