Turkey freezes trade with Israel over ‘worsening humanitarian tragedy’

Turkey suspended all trade with Israel over its offensive in Gaza, citing the “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in the strip.
The Turkish Trade Ministry said the measures would be in place until Israel allowed an “uninterrupted and sufficient flow” of aid into Gaza.
Trade Minister Omer Bolat said on Friday the country will not resume trade with Israel, worth $7 billion a year, until a permanent cease-fire and humanitarian aid are secured in Gaza, becoming the first of Israel’s key commercial partners to take such a step, Reuters reported.
Israel’s “uncompromising attitude” and the worsening situation in Gaza’s Rafah region, a refuge for displaced people that Israel has threatened to storm – prompted Ankara to halt all exports and imports, Bolat said.
Also, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey’s move to halt trade with Israel was designed to force the regime to a cease-fire in Gaza.
The decision is the latest indication of deteriorating Turkey’s relations with Israel, AFP reported.
“We have taken some measures to force Israel to agree to a cease-fire and increase the amount of humanitarian aid to enter” Gaza, Erdogan told a group of businessmen in Istanbul.
“We will oversee the consequences of this step we have taken in coordination and consultation with our business world.”
Turkish-Israeli trade volume amounted to $9.5 billion, Erdogan told journalists after Friday prayers in Istanbul. “We closed that door.”
Turkish officials would coordinate with Palestinian authorities to ensure that Palestinians are not affected by the suspension of imports and exports, the trade ministry said.
The ministry described the step as the “second phase” of measures against Israel, adding that the steps would remain in force until Israel “allows an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.” Already in April Turkey announced it was restricting exports to Israel, covering 54 products from iron and steel to jet fuel.
“We do not run after hostility or conflict in our region,” Erdogan said Friday. “We do not want to see conflict, blood or tears in our geography, adding that, “We know now that we did the right thing.”
The Gaza Strip is suffering a humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s war against Hamas that has been raging since October 7, with the United Nations and aid agencies warning of impending famine. The Health Ministry in Gaza said Saturday that at least 34,654 people have been killed since October 7, when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Thursday accused Erdogan of breaking bilateral agreements after Ankara announced the trade freeze.
But Erdogan said: “We have one goal here, and that’s to force the Netanyahu cabinet, which went out of control with the unconditional military and diplomatic support of the West, to a cease-fire.”

Truce attempts
According to Egyptian state-linked media Al-Qahera News, a Hamas delegation arrived Saturday in Egypt for the latest round of talks on a proposed truce and prisoner release in Gaza.
However, a top Israeli official on Saturday said Israel will send a delegation to Cairo for talks on a Gaza truce only if it sees a “positive movement” on a framework for a hostage deal.
“The indication for positive movement over a framework would be if we send a delegation led by Mossad chief to Cairo,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the US have been waiting for Hamas to respond to a proposal that, according to details released by Britain, would halt fighting for 40 days and exchange Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
If they manage to reach a deal, it would be the first since a week-long truce in November, when Hamas released 105 captives, the 80 Israelis among them in exchange for 240 Palestinians held by Israel.

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