Turkey’s Israeli imports increase in November despite leaders’ dispute over Palestine

Turkey's official statistical authority data revealed that Israeli imports increased after the attacks on Gaza began on Oct. 7, 2023. The Turkish government is among the staunchest critics of Israel’s attacks in Gaza, and pro-government organizations have called Turkish citizens to boycotts.

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Data from Turkey’s official statistical authority (TÜİK) revealed increasing Israeli imports in November 2023, a month after Israel’s attacks on Gaza began. Trade relations between the governments persist despite their ongoing dispute about the Palestinian conflict.

November 2023 was significant as imports decreased and exports increased. The highest import/export ratio of the year was recorded, according to reporting by economy news outlet Ekonomim.com. Turkey’s November exports to Israel were 301 million dollars, whereas its imports from Israel were 128 million dollars, achieving a record-breaking 42,4 percent import/export ratio.  

The data reveals the persisting trade relations between the two states while the Turkish government has been upbraiding Israel for its attacks on Gaza. Opposition figures have questioned the sincerity of President Erdoğan’s condemnation of the Israeli regime and calls from pro-government civil society organizations to increase individual boycott efforts against pro-Israeli businesses while maintaining strong trade relations. 

Journalist Metin Cihan on Dec. 7 reported that Turkish companies shipped four million tonnes of goods to Israel on 400 ships during its attacks on Gaza. He also exposed various Turkish companies still in business with Israel including major ones belonging to the Koç and Sabancı holdings and those owned by names from the ruling Justice and Development (AKP).

One was the company owned by former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım's son, Erkam Yıldırım. A Turkish court restricted access to the social media posts upon the criminal complaint of the Yıldırım family. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family have also filed a criminal complaint against Cihan for his post, who said "While Erdoğan was condemning Israel's hospital bombing, his son Burak Erdoğan's company was loading cargo at an Israeli port.”  

Upon criticisms and calls for ceasing all trade relations with Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan stated that the country’s diplomatic and trade relations with Israel did not harm “the Palestinian cause.”