Skip to main content

Israel's Smotrich will abolish free trade deal with Turkey, slap 100% tariff

As Israel becomes increasingly isolated internationally, the army stated that two Thai workers, presumed kidnapped by Hamas, were actually killed by the group on Oct. 7.
Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich walks with soldiers during a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the border with the Gaza Strip on Nov. 14, 2023, in the aftermath of an attack by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Thursday he will advance a government decision to abolish Israel’s free trade agreement with Turkey and to impose a 100% tariff on all imports from the country in response to Ankara's joining the South Africa case at a UN court and restricting trade with Israel.

Smotrich said the decision would be a temporary one, for the length of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tenure in 2028.

Turkey announced two weeks ago it was joining the South African case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. Those deliberations started Thursday in The Hague. 

This move came after Turkish authorities said at beginning of May that they are banning all exports to Israel. That being said, reports in Israel last week indicated that some Turkish goods might receive special temporary export authorization, depending on contracts already signed. Turkish authorities denied that such exceptions were indeed granted. 

The news came as Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Thursday evening that the Israeli military and the Foreign Ministry have notified the families of two Thai workers, presumed to have been held hostage by Hamas, that they were killed on Oct. 7, and that their bodies are being held in Gaza by the group.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists brutally murdered 39 Thai nationals and kidnapped 31 Thai nationals to Gaza. Like them, other foreign nationals were abducted, including from Tanzania, Nepal, Mexico, the US and France,” said Hagari, adding that “the terrible cruelty of Hamas was used against anyone that stood in its way, without distinction of their origin.” 

According to Israeli authorities, 132 people are held captive by Hamas. Forty of them have been declared dead by Israeli authorities, according to forensic and video materials recuperated in various ways. Sonthaya Oakkharasr and Sudthisak Rinthalak had worked in agriculture in kibbutz Be’eri, one of the communities hit the hardest by the Oct. 7 Hamas assault. 

The Families Forum, which represents the relatives of the hostages, expressed its condolences to the families of Oakkharasr and Rinthalak, stating that "the State of Israel's duty was, and remains, to protect its citizens and those within its borders. Its obligation is clear: to bring all the hostages back — the murdered for burial, and the living for rehabilitation." The Families Forum added that "it is imperative for the international community to acknowledge that the hostage crisis extends beyond being solely an Israeli issue," and called on the Israeli to "send a delegation to Egypt and Qatar to advance a deal for the return of all the hostages."

Canada sanctions four extremist settlers

Another international problematic front for Israel is Canada. Its Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Thursday that Ottawa was imposing sanctions on four Israeli extremist settlers. A statement issued by the Canadian Foreign Ministry said, "Canada remains concerned with extremist settler violence and will examine additional measures in response to the grave breach of international peace and security posed by their violent and destabilizing actions against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank."

The four settlers sanctioned are David Chai Chasdai, Yinon Levi, Zvi Bar Yosef and Moshe Sharvit. Levi was one of the four settlers sanctioned by the United States last February. The State Department said at the time that Levi led a group of settlers from the Meitarim Farm who engaged in actions creating an atmosphere of fear in the West Bank among Palestinian and Bedouin civilians.