PH Quickie: Israel has blood of 3 continents on its hands

File photo: Soldiers take part in a military parade to mark the 74th Armed Forces Day in the capital Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2019.Ann Wang/Reuters

File photo: Soldiers take part in a military parade to mark the 74th Armed Forces Day in the capital Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2019.Ann Wang/Reuters

by Kathryn Shihadah

Last week, in an article entitled Arming Dictators, Equipping Pariahs: Alarming Picture of Israel's Arms Sales, Ha’aretz reported on “concrete evidence” indicating that Israel has been exporting

weapons to countries that systematically violate human rights. Israeli-made weapons are also found in the hands of armies and organizations committing war crimes. The report points to eight such countries that have received arms from Israel in recent years.

Those countries are: South Sudan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. South Africa was also a trade partner during its Apartheid era.

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Israel signed (but never ratified) the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty. Amnesty International says that “Israel has never acted in the spirit of this treaty, neither by legislation nor its policies.”

It adds that there are models for transparent reporting, and “[t]here is no justification for the fact that Israel continues to belong to a dishonorable club of exporters such as China and Russia.”

(One wonders whether Amnesty used this wording because Israel famously hates being singled out for criticism.)

The report states, in part, that

the South Sudanese army currently has Israeli Galil rifles, at a time when there is an international arms embargo on South Sudan, imposed by the UN Security Council, due to ethnic cleansing, as well as crimes against humanity, using rape as a method of war, and due to war crimes the army is perpetrating against the country’s citizens.”

According to Amnesty, the defense export control agency at the Defense Ministry approved the licenses awarded Israeli companies for selling weapons to these countries, even though it knew about the bad human rights situation there. It did this despite the risk that Israeli exports would be used to violate human rights and despite the embargo on arms sales imposed on some of these countries by the United States and the European Union, as well as other sanctions that were imposed by these countries or the United Nations.

In response to letters written to the export control agency, its head, Rachel Chen, said: “We can’t divulge whether we’re exporting to one of these countries, but we carefully examine the state of human rights in each country before approving export licenses for selling them weapons.” According to Amnesty, this claim is false, as shown by the example of the eight countries mentioned in the report.

According to one senior Israeli defense official, many of the claims in the Amnesty report have been brought as petitions to Israel’s High Court of Justice. However, in each case,

the court accepted the state’s position that deliberations would be held with only one side present – the state, and that its rulings would remain classified.

This is classic Israeli practice: prioritize expediency, consort with pariahs, use the court system to validate rather than confront misconduct, and human rights be damned.

(Read the full Ha’aretz article here.)