Gunman holding US firm staff hostage at Turkish factory in Gaza war protest

Gunman holding US firm staff hostage at Turkish factory in Gaza war protest
Photo posted online by local Kocaeli Gundem newspaper said to show paintings of Turkish and Palestinian flags and protest slogans including “Doors will be opened for Gaza” at factory where seven people are being held hostage. / Kocaeli Gundem online
By bne IntelliNews February 1, 2024

A hostage situation has developed at a plant of US firm Procter & Gamble (P&G) outside Istanbul where an unidentified gunman with his face covered with a Palestinian scarf—and shown by a photo to have wires and possibly explosives taped to his chest—is holding seven people, according to Turkish media reports.

Local media also reported that a Palestinian flag along with a Turkish flag have been painted at the entrance of the building with writing that says “Doors will be opened for Gaza” and “Either musalla or death”. Musalla is an Arabic word meaning a space apart from a mosque that is mainly used for funeral prayers in Islam.

Demimoren News Agency said the man appeared to be mounting a protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Some local reports quoted text messages sent by hostages saying the man was an ex-employee of the factory.

Police are reportedly negotiating with the hostage taker at the consumer goods factory in Gebze industrial zone and special forces are present. The rest of the employees have been released, according to a union representative for the factory who has briefed local reporters.

P&G said in a statement that the safety and security of its employees was its "number one priority".

"We have evacuated our manufacturing facility at Gebze, Turkey, and are working with local authorities and the police," it added.

Medical staff have been deployed to the scene, cordoned off by police.

Ismet Zihni, whose wife works at the plant, told DHA news agency that she sent him a message saying she had been taken hostage.

The man entered the factory in Gebze industrial zone in Kocaeli province around 1500 local time (1200 GMT), Demiroren said, adding that police rushed to the scene and were trying to persuade him to give himself up.

The seven people believed to have been taken hostage were six men and one woman, Demiroren also said, adding that there was apparently a second unidentified hostage-taker.

The Kocaeli governor arrived at the scene and was briefed by police, the news agency added. The authorites were yet to comment on the situation.

One photo from the scene shown by local media showed the man with an apparent gun in one hand and making a 'V' sign with his other hand in front of the wall with the Turkish and Palestinian flags and Gaza slogans.

Around the world, global brands with perceived links to Israel have been targeted with boycotts amid criticism of Israel’s war against Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza and the decision of the US and other major Western powers not to demand Israel stop the conflict despite tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

In November, the US Embassy in Ankara warned US citizens against potential attacks on certain US-branded businesses as Israel stepped up its invasion of Gaza. 

In October, McDonald’s Turkey  donated a million dollars in humanitarian aid to Gaza to underline that it has no connection to McDonald’s Israel. The move was confirmed by McDonald’s Turkey (McDonaldsTR) in a statement amid simmering anger in Middle Eastern countries that back the Palestinian cause over how McDonald’s Israel was delivering free meal boxes to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers involved in Gaza Strip military operations and Israel’s besieging of the Palestinian territory.

Starbucks, though it has stated it has no links to Israel, has faced protests and vandalism in Turkey, with incidents in which customers were left shaken up by aggressive demonstrators.

P&G uses Turkey as a hub for operations in eight countries. Its four facilities in Turkey manufacture products for brands including Oral-B, Gillette and Fairy. The factory in Gebze mainly makes cosmetics.

Related Articles

Despite local elections defeat Erdogan “remains in control” at head of “super-executive regime”, says analyst

Despite his AKP party’s defeat in the weekend’s local elections, Turkish President ... more

Turkish footwear manufacturers step up investments in Uzbekistan’s leather and footwear industries

Turkish footwear manufacturers are stepping up their investments in Uzbekistan’s leather and footwear industries, according to local reports. A $1mn investment in the manufacture of leather, ... more

Shipping companies latest to feel effects of “West’s very tight blockade against Turkey’s banking system", says report

Shipping companies are the latest to feel the effects of “the West’s very tight blockade against the Turkish banking system”, according to a report by Turkish publication Ekonomim. In ... more