[News] Apartheid Arms: Why Israel Sells Military Equipment to Human Rights Violators

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 22 10:51:28 EDT 2019


  Apartheid Arms: Why Israel Sells Military Equipment to Human Rights

May 21, 2019

*By Mohamed Mohamed 

An in-depth report released in Hebrew by Amnesty International’s Israeli 
chapter provides a damning picture 
of Israeli arms exports to countries that violate human rights. This 
report provides solid evidence that over the past 20 years, Israeli 
military exports went to at least eight countries that have been known 
for serious violations of human rights:

  * Azerbaijan – which has persecuted government critics and LGBTQ
    people – received Israeli battleships, anti-tank missiles, attack
    drones, military vehicles, and radar systems
  * Cameroon – implicated in kidnappings, torture, and murder – received
    Israeli military training and armored vehicles
  * Mexico – undergoing a severe human rights crisis and forced
    disappearances – received Israeli spyware software that targeted
    journalists, human rights lawyers, and anti-corruption activists
  * Myanmar – which has engaged in ethnic cleansing, genocide, and
    crimes against humanity – received armored vehicles and naval ammunition
  * Philippines – which carried out mass extrajudicial executions –
    received Israeli assault rifles, machine guns, and anti-tank guided
  * South Sudan – implicated in ethnic cleansing and crimes against
    humanity – received Israeli surveillance technology and assault rifles
  * Sri Lanka – which was engaged in a brutal civil war – received
    Israeli drones and battleships
  * United Arab Emirates – which has imprisoned government critics and
    human rights activists – received Israeli spyware software,
    including the infamous “Pegasus” spyware (just days ago, NSO, the
    Israeli company behind Pegasus, was linked
    to a security exploit targeting WhatsApp that allowed Pegasus to be

What is worse is that some of these countries were under international 
sanctions and weapons sales embargoes, yet Israel continued to sell arms 
to them.

For example, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South 
Sudan due to its acts of ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against 
humanity, and even using mass rape as a method of war. Yet South Sudan 
still ended up acquiring Israeli-made assault rifles. Part of this is 
due to the fact that Israeli weapons reach such countries after a chain 
of transactions, which helps to avoid international monitoring and 
decrease transparency.

Israeli authorities claim that they “carefully examine the state of 
human rights in each country before approving export licenses for 
selling them weapons,” but the fact that Israeli weapons made it to the 
countries mentioned above proves that this statement is far from the truth.

But this information is neither new nor shocking. As Jonathan Cook wrote 
in 2013, “despite having a population smaller than New York City, Israel 
has emerged in the last few years as one of the world’s largest 
exporters of weapons.”

At the time, analysts placed Israel as the sixth top producer of 
weapons, ahead of China and Italy. When accounting for covert weapons 
deals, Israel was even considered to be the fourth top producer, ahead 
of Britain and Germany.

Of course, much of these military sales were made possible at the 
expense and lives of Palestinians. A significant reason why Israeli 
weapons are so marketable is because they are presented as 
“battle-proven.” In other words, they were tested on Palestinians.

As Miko Peled wrote 
last year, an Israeli weapons manufacturer marketed its unmanned armored 
personnel carrier as “combat-proven” at the “Israel Unmanned Systems 
2014” conference, since the 2014 war on Gaza was the first time that 
such a remote-controlled carrier had been successfully deployed.

And as Rania Khalek has mentioned 
“Palestine has long served as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning 
‘homeland security’ industry to test and perfect weapons of domination 
and control, with disenfranchised and stateless Palestinians serving as 
their lab rats.”

And as Bloomberg noted 
the price of stock of Elbit Systems, one of the largest manufacturers of 
Israeli military technology, surged to its highest level since 2010 
during the 2014 war on Gaza. This was surely no coincidence. It is also 
uncoincidental that the 2010 high peak of Elbit’s stock was not long 
after the end of the 2009 war on Gaza.

Clearly, waging war on Palestinians is a huge money-maker for the state 
of Israel, its corporations, and even its citizens (Cook cites data that 
around 6,800 Israelis are actively engaged in exporting arms, and former 
defense minister Ehud Barak admitted that 150,000 Israeli households – 
around 10 percent of the population – depend on the weapons industry).

One can look no further than to the comments 
of Avner Benzaken, who was head of the “Technology and Logistics Branch” 
of the Israeli “Defense” Forces:

    “If I develop a product and want to test it in the field, I only
    have to go five or 10 kilometers from my base and I can look and see
    what is happening with the equipment. I get feedback, so it makes
    the development process faster and much more efficient. “

Essentially, Benzaken is glad that he has such a convenient space to 
test Israeli weapons. He all but confirms that Palestinians serve as 
“lab rats” for these weapons systems.

The report highlighting Israel’s export of arms to countries violating 
human rights is troubling, but it is not surprising. Israel claims to be 
a democracy, but this is in name only. In fact, Israel belongs to the 
same club of prolific human rights violating regimes that it sells 
weapons to.

More than 71 years ago, Israel forcibly seized Palestinian land and 
expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians. To this day, nearly all of them 
have been denied the right to return to their homes, and the ones who 
managed to stay are now treated as second class citizens in the state of 
Israel. This reality was reinforced legally with the recent racist 
Israeli “nation-state” law of 2018.

For 52 years, Israel has maintained a cruel military occupation of 
Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and it has 
imposed full control over all aspects of their lives. Palestinians in 
the West Bank have severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, on 
access to their own land, on access to basic resources such as water and 
other natural resources, to religious sites, telecommunications, and 
they are subject to theft of their land and to violence and harassment 
by Israeli settlers.

And of course, Israel has imposed a vicious and near-total blockade of 
Gaza for almost 12 years now. Almost all of Gaza’s water is undrinkable, 
it has only a few hours of electricity per day, it is unable to import 
even the most basic food and other necessities, its fisherman and 
farmers cannot work without risking their lives, and it is always at 
risk of being savagely bombarded by Israel.

With all these factors in mind, is it surprising that Israel would sell 
military equipment to human rights violators? Of course not, because 
Israel is one of them. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock 

Israel will only change its behavior if world powers, particularly the 
United States, imposed sanctions against it as was done in 1986 against 
South Africa. Otherwise, it will continue to act in an apartheid-like 
manner toward Palestinians, and it will continue to support and profit 
off of oppressive regimes like itself.

/– Mohamed Mohamed is the Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund & 
Palestine Center in Washington DC. He is a graduate of The University of 
Texas at Dallas, where he majored in Political Science and completed his 
senior thesis on statelessness and its practical implications on 
Palestinians living in the refugee camps of Lebanon. He also earned an 
M.A. in International Relations and an M.S. in International Political 
Economy. His articles have appeared on Arab America, Electronic 
Intifada, Hindustan Times, Mondoweiss, and has been interviewed on 
various international outlets. Follow him on Twitter at @mykm47. He 
contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle./

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