Turkey Restricts Exports to Israel in Protest of War in Gaza

Turkey said on Tuesday that it would restrict exports to Israel until there is a cease-fire in Gaza, prompting threats of a tit-for-tat response from a government with which it has long had tense relations.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has defended Hamas and lashed out at Israel over the war in Gaza, accusing it of deliberately attacking civilians. But his government had until Tuesday stopped short of taking concrete economic measures against Israel over the conflict.

Turkey’s Trade Ministry said it was imposing restrictions covering dozens of exports — including aluminum, steel products, cement and jet fuel — after Israel denied a Turkish government request to airdrop humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“This decision will remain in place until Israel declares a cease-fire in Gaza and allows the flow of a sufficient amount of uninterrupted aid to the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement.

The announcement drew an angry response from Israel’s foreign minister, who accused Mr. Erdogan of “sacrificing the economic interests” of Turkey’s people in the name of supporting Hamas.

“Israel will not capitulate to violence and blackmail and will not overlook the unilateral violation of the trade agreements and will take parallel measures against Turkey that will harm the Turkish economy,” the minister, Israel Katz, said in a statement.

Turkey’s exports to Israel were worth $5.4 billion in 2023, or 2.1 percent of its total exports, according to official data.

Turkey has long had turbulent relations with Israel, though in recent years there had been some signs of a thaw: In 2022, Turkey welcomed Israel’s president to Ankara, the first visit by an Israeli head of state since 2008. Mr. Erdogan met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for the first time last September.

Less than a month after that meeting, Hamas led the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that set off the war in Gaza.

Under Mr. Erdogan, Turkey has often hosted members of Hamas, some of whose leaders were in the country for meetings on Oct. 7. The Turkish leader has strongly criticized Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, putting him sharply at odds with his NATO allies.

But the rising death toll and dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza have prompted increasing criticism from Israel’s allies over how the war is being conducted.

President Biden threatened last week to condition future U.S. support for Israel on how it addresses his concerns about civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis. This week, the foreign minister of France told French news media that imposing sanctions might be one way of putting more pressure on Israel to open humanitarian corridors to Gaza.

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.

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