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Turkey says suspending all trade with Israel over war on Gaza

Demonstrators shout slogans during a Free Palestine rally in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 15, 2023.

Turkey says it is suspending all trade with Israel until it allows aid to enter Gaza unhindered during its invasion of the besieged territory.

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

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

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

Turkey recently imposed restrictions on exchanges with Israel over the regime’s refusal to allow Ankara to take part in aid air-drop operations for Gaza.

The country imposed trade restrictions on 54 product groups in April, a move widely believed to be in response to growing public pressure for the suspension of trade ties with Israel amid the rising humanitarian toll in Gaza. 

Erdogan back then said that Turkey no longer continued “intense trade” with Israel, adding “that is done”. He did not indicate Ankara had cut off all trade with Israel, however.

The president has also warned Israel of a “heavy price” if the Tel Aviv regime carries out its alleged plot to target members of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Turkish soil.

The Turkish leader recently hosted Hamas’s political leader in Istanbul on April 20, calling for immediate aid to Gaza. 

Israel and Turkey restored diplomatic ties last August after a decade of tensions. The Israeli aggression has triggered a popular public backlash across the Muslim world and even in the US.

The latest move came a day after Turkey announced plans to join South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice as a plaintiff accusing Israel of committing genocide in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Senior Israeli officials have held emergency meetings in Tel Aviv this week to discuss the possibility that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could also issue arrest warrants for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US crackdown on US university students

Erdogan also strongly criticized Heavily-handed tactics to curb US college campus protests, saying authorities were displaying "cruelty" in clamping down on pro-Palestinian students and academics.

"Conscientious students and academics including anti-Zionist Jews at some prestigious American universities are protesting the massacre (in Gaza)," Erdogan told an event in Ankara.

"These people are being subjected to violence, cruelty, suffering, and even torture for saying the massacre has to stop," he said, adding that university staff were being "sacked and lynched" for supporting the Palestinians.

Demonstrations have spread on campuses across the United States over Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza.

Student-organized pro-Palestinian rallies and encampments, which began at Columbia University in New York City on 17 April, have spread to more than two dozen states and several other countries.

Protesters have demanded that academic institutions financially boycott Israel and companies.

US police have stormed several colleges and arrest more students as unrest over Israel's onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza simmers on campuses.

 "The limits of Western democracy are drawn by Israel's interests," Erdogan said. "Whatever infringes on Israel's interests is anti-democratic, antisemitic for them."

Turkey has sharply criticized Israel's onslaught on Gaza and what it calls the unconditional support the Tel Aviv regime receives from Western countries.

The US is a top supplier of military aid to Israel and has shielded Israel from critical United Nations votes.

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