A number of Israeli supermarket chains are halting imports from Turkey following statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that defended Palestinian militant group Hamas as “liberators,” the Haaretz daily reported.
The companies include Israel’s largest supermarket chain, Shufersal, as well as competitors Rami Levy and Yochananof, Haaretz’s Simi Solter reported, adding that smaller importers have followed suit.
Turkey has recently become one of Israel’s top exporters, ranking fifth last year after China, the US, Switzerland and Germany. In 2022, Israeli imports from Turkey amounted to $7 billion.
Hamas militants staged a surprise attack on Oct. 7, during which they killed 1,400 people — mostly civilians — and seized more than 220 hostages.
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has said Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,500 people, also mainly civilians.
Erdoğan’s Islamic-rooted party staged a massive rally in İstanbul on Saturday that the president said drew a crowd of 1.5 million people.
At the rally Erdoğan criticized Israel’s military operations in Gaza and accused the Israeli government of behaving like a “war criminal.” Last week, Erdoğan called Hamas militants “liberators” fighting for their land.
However, the recent shipment of 1 million barrels of Azerbaijani crude oil from Turkey’s Ceyhan Port to Israel’s Eilat Port, facilitated by the Malta-registered oil tanker Seaviolet, came despite Erdoğan’s pro-Palestinian rhetoric, indicating economic considerations still play a crucial role in the relationship.
Despite escalating tensions, the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline remains operational, supplying a significant portion of Israel’s annual oil needs.