Turkey denies arms exports to Israel amid war on Gaza

Turkey denies arms exports to Israel amid war on Gaza
Turkey has rejected allegations of military cooperation with Israel after claims from media outlets.
3 min read
27 March, 2024
Turkey refutes allegations of conducting military activity with Israel [GETTY]

Turkey has denied allegations of military collaboration with Israel after some media outlets claimed the country continues to export gunpowder, weapons and ammunition to the country.

Online magazine The Cradle mentioned a report from Trading Economics that in January, the country exported almost $319 million in goods to Israel including precious metals, chemicals, insecticides, nuclear reactor parts, gunpowder, explosives, aircraft parts, and weapons and ammunition.

The Karar daily reported that Turkish trade activity with Israel is primarily driven by companies affiliated with the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MUSIAD), which is known for supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan but these claims have been strongly denied by Ankara.

"It is not possible for the Republic of Turkey, which has always supported Palestine, to carry out or engage in any activity that would harm the Palestinians," Turkey's national defence ministry said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"The Ministry of National Defence does not have any activities with Israel, including military training, exercises, and defence industry cooperation."

The ministry noted that Israel's war on Gaza has targeted hospitals, schools, places of worship, refugee camps and civilians.

The Turkish Communications Directorate's Centre for Countering Disinformation (TCDCCD) had also refuted the allegations by examining the social media posts.

"The products in the 93rd chapter of the alleged export list are not war weapons and ammunition but ungrooved rifle spare parts and accessories and fishing equipment used for individual purposes such as sports and hunting," TCDCCD said on X. The products exported under the military goods category were "gel fuel and lighter fluid" in the 36th chapter of the export list.

The organisation has also included data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT), saying there have been no exports of rifles for sports and hunting purposes since May 2023, which already had low figures.

Öyküm Hüma Keskin, Fact-Checker for Teyit hakkında - one of the main independent fact-checking outlets in Turkey - said that claims about the export data report being false is untrue.

"When we examine this table, we confirm that in the first three months of 2024, exports were made to Israel under the title of 'gunpowder and explosives' (Chapter 36) and under the title of 'arms and explosives' (Chapter 93) are 'hunting and fishing equipment'," Hüma Keskin said.

The ministry of trade press release stated that items sold under the heading 'gunpowder and explosives' include 'gel and lighter fluid', while those under 'weapons and explosives' are 'hunting and fishing equipment'.

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"We cannot access information from open sources, such as which company sent which goods to whom under these categories. Therefore, we cannot confirm the goods by open sources," the fact checker added.

"The shared data on social media only cover the first three months of 2024, and this shows that trade with Israel continues. Turkey does not currently have an embargo in place, so the trade is not secret."

NATO member Turkey has condemned Israel over its war on Gaza, with Erdogan calling Hamas a liberation group as opposed to a "terrorist organisation" and Ankara recalling its ambassador to Israel.

Turkey and Israel have for decades collaborated on security issues, but under Erdogan the two countries have had more fraught ties due to the president's support for the Palestinian cause and ongoing Israeli abuses against the Palestinians.

Relations became particularly strained following the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid when Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish pro-Palestine activists. Another member of the flotilla died in hospital after four years in a coma.

This story has been updated to include quotes.