Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan has recalled Ankara’s envoy to Tel Aviv and pushed for Israeli commanders and political leaders to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Image Credit: AFP file

ANKARA: Turkey will restrict exports of a wide range of products to Israel, including steel and jet fuel, until a ceasefire is declared in Gaza, the Turkish Trade Ministry said on Tuesday, in Ankara’s first significant measure against Israel after six months of war.

Turkey has denounced Israel for its campaign on Gaza, which was launched following Palestinian militant group Hamas’ October 7 rampage. Ankara has called for an immediate ceasefire, supported steps to try Israel for genocide, and sent thousands of tons of aid for Gazans.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

However, Ankara also maintained commercial ties with Israel despite its strong rhetoric, prompting a domestic backlash.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Monday vowed reprisals against Israel for blocking Turkey’s air force from airdropping aid to Gaza, saying they would be implemented “step by step” and “without delay”.

Also read

The export measures were approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he added.

In a statement following Ankara’s announcement that it would be taking measures after Israel rejected its request to take part in an aid air-drop, the ministry said the restrictions would take effect as of Tuesday.

It 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 decision will remain in place until Israel, under its obligations emanating from international law, urgently declares a ceasefire in Gaza and allows the unhindered flow of sufficient humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip,” it said.

Shortly after the Israel-Hamas war started, Turkey and Israel pulled back their ambassadors. Tuesday’s move is the first significant measure taken by Ankara against Israel since the start of the conflict. President Tayyip Erdogan has faced growing criticism over his government’s commercial ties to Israel.

Israel to impose own curbs

In response, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Erdogan is sacrificing Turkey’s economic interests in order to support Hamas.

He said that in response to Turkish restriction on exports, Israel will prepare its own trade restrictions on products from Turkey.

Turkey ‘unilaterally violated’ trade agreements with Israel, he added.

Police detained dozens of protestors demanding an end to the trade with Israel in Istanbul on Saturday. Authorities suspended two police officers involved in the incident, as the government works to restore popular support after a thumping opposition win in March 31 local elections.

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

According to the 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.

The war in Gaza has put an end to a gradual thawing in Turkish-Israeli relations that culminated with the reappointment of ambassadors in 2022.

Erdogan has recalled Ankara’s envoy to Tel Aviv and pushed for Israeli commanders and political leaders to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Turkish leader also often attacked Israel on the campaign trail ahead of local elections held on March 31.