Turkey Halts All Trade With Israel Over War in Gaza

As of Thursday, Turkey has halted all commerce with Israel, according to two Turkish officials who are privy to the situation. This action intensifies the already strained relations between the two countries, which were once close allies, due to the conflict in Gaza. This decision extends the limitations placed on certain Turkish exports to Israel last month, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amplifies his critique of Israel and seeks to solidify support among conservative voters domestically.

While Ankara has not officially announced the suspension, it remains uncertain under what circumstances trade would recommence. In 2023, the trade between the two nations amounted to $6.8 billion, with Turkish exports accounting for 76% of this figure, as per the Turkish statistical institute.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, criticized this move in a post on X, stating, “This is the behavior of a dictator who tramples the interests of the Turkish people and business community, while ignoring international trade agreements.” He further added that the Israeli government will strive to establish immediate alternatives for trade with Turkey by boosting local manufacturing and seeking other suppliers.

In 2023, Turkey’s largest export to Israel was iron and steel, while its biggest import was refined oil products, as reported by the Turkish statistical institute.

This action was taken the day after Turkey declared its intention to join South Africa’s lawsuit at the United Nations’ highest court, accusing Israel of committing genocide in Palestinian territory. Israel and Turkey had reestablished diplomatic relations last August after a decade of tension and were looking into ways to enhance cooperation until the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, which ignited the war. This conflict has incited a widespread backlash across the Arab world and even in the US.

Erdogan has referred to Hamas militants as “freedom fighters” and has consistently condemned Israel’s actions in the war, which, according to health authorities in Hamas-controlled Gaza, has resulted in the death of 34,000 Palestinians. Unlike the US and the European Union, Turkey does not classify the group as a terrorist organization.

On April 20, Erdogan hosted the political leader of Hamas in Istanbul, advocating for immediate aid to Gaza.