Turkish police batter, detain protestors criticizing trade with Israel

Turkish police battered and detained dozens of people during the protest calling on to cut off trade with Israel. The interior minister later announced the dismissal of two police officers after the police attack on pro-Palestine protestors drew ire.

Duvar Englsih

Turkish police on April 7 battered the protestors, who demanded the cutting of trade relations with Israel, on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street.

Members of the "Thousand Youth for Palestine" gathered on Istiklal Street with the slogan “Stop Trade with Israel.” 

The police, however, brutally attacked the pro-Palestine march, detaining about 43 people.

The videos showing the police attack have drawn ire on social media. Police also confiscated the phones of protesters who were taking videos.

Later, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya claimed that some protestors “did not disperse despite all warnings after the protest ended,” and they “resisted the security forces by insulting state officials.”

38 of the 43 people were released after an ID check, whereas judicial proceedings were taken against five people, Yerlikaya said.

Yerlikaya added that two police officers were dismissed.

The Thousand Youth for Palestine refuted Yerlikaya's claims, and said, "We were blockaded 20 meters away from the place where we would make a press statement. You prepared with hundreds of police officers and swore, you kicked people with their hands tied on the ground."

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel said the police’ move “is clearly against freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the constitution. Young people in custody should be released immediately.”

Opposition Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party leader Tülay Hatimoğulları said deemed the attack “proof of the crocodile tears shed by the AKP-MHP government for the oppressed Palestinian people!”

“While the genocide continues in Palestine, the government, which signs million-dollar agreements with Israel, detained young people who called for solidarity with Palestine and for the government to cut trade relations with Israel. All young people who stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people must be released immediately,” she added.

Opposition Islamist Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaooğlu said “I congratulate every one of our young people who protested against trade with Israel. Trade with Israel is an oppression against the oppressed people of Gaza, and detaining and torturing those who protest against trade in an offensive way is an even greater oppression. The (police’s) treatment of our youth protesting against trade with Israel legitimizes Israel's cruelty and encourages this murderous state. Trade with Israel is a betrayal of Palestine.”

All detainees were later released.

It has come to light that Turkey was continuing trade relations with Israel which have been continuing to attack and occupy Palestine. Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data revealed that Israeli imports increased after the attacks on Gaza began on Oct. 7, 2023 in November. 

The Turkish government has been among the staunchest critics of Israel’s attacks in Gaza, and pro-government organizations have frequently called Turkish citizens to boycotts. 

Nevertheless, many reportings revealed that some companies close to the Turkish government and Islamist business group Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD) have been continuing their ties with Israel.

Independent journalist Metin Cihan on April 3 reported a 21-tonne shipment of boron from Eti Mining, a fully public-owned company under the Turkish Wealth Fund.

The shipment reached Israel on April 1, for the Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. The company also served the Israeli army, reported Cihan.