Turkey halts trade with Israel over tragedy in Gaza

Ahram Online , Friday 3 May 2024

Turkey said Thursday it was suspending all trade with Israel until it allows aid to enter Gaza unhindered, citing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the strip due to the Israeli brutal war.

Palestinians stand in the ruins of the Chahine family home, after an overnight Israeli strike that killed at least two adults and five boys and girls under the age of 16 in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Photo: AP


"Exports and imports to and from Israel have been suspended," the trade ministry said in a statement.

"Turkey will apply these new measures ... until the Israeli government authorizes an uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza," it added.

Trade between the two countries reached nearly $7 billion in 2023.

On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz had earlier accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of breaking agreements between the two countries by blocking Israeli exports and imports.

The move is the latest incident degrading relations after Turkey, one of the few Muslim-majority nations that recognizes Israel, restricted exports to the country in April.

Turkey, a NATO member and supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has criticized Israel's war on Gaza, describing it as a "terrorist state" and calling for trying its leaders in international courts.

President Erdogan has been a vocal critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawing parallels between him and Adolf Hitler and Mussolini and calling him "the butcher of Gaza."

Israel, in response, recalled its diplomats from Turkey. Ankara followed suit, saying that the crimes Israel was committing in Gaza could not be tolerated.

Turkish-Israeli relations deteriorated further since the beginning of this year when Turkish authorities arrested 46 people allegedly spying for Mossad in Turkey. 

In 2010, Turkey broke off diplomatic ties with Israel after Israeli commandos who boarded a Turkish-owned ship trying to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip killed 10 pro-Palestinian Turkish activists.

In 2016, relations were restored, but both countries expelled each other's top diplomats two years later in a dispute over Israel's killing of Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border.

The Gaza Strip is suffering a humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's war that erupted on 7 October. 

The United Nations and aid agencies have been warning of impending famine in the strip.

The UN said that Israel's severe restrictions on aid to war-ravaged Gaza and its ongoing hostilities could amount to using starvation as a weapon of war, which would be a war crime.

Israel has killed at least 34,596 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, since 7 October.


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