UK Document Reveals Unexpected Customers for Israeli Arms
Thursday, July 11, 2013
SHIR HEVER, TRNN PRODUCER: It is no secret that Israel is one of the world’s largest weapons exporters. Although Israel is a relatively small country, it is the largest exporter of arms in per capita terms. A slightly less known fact is that Israel exports focuses on developing countries, on militias, countries under military embargoes, and countries engaged in civil war. While the large weapons manufacturers are worried that breaking UN arms embargoes could lead to scandals, Israeli armed companies have been known to operate in the most controversial areas of the world.
To demonstrate the loopholes in arm trade regulations, British documentary maker Mark Thomas invited Israeli arm traders to demonstrate a weapon in England which they brought into the country labeled as agricultural equipment.
MARK THOMAS, FILMMAKER: Did you have much trouble with the–’cause I saw it was agricultural.
UNIDENTIFIED: We didn’t want them to ask too many questions, and then we have a special permit for one, for once. At the customs did you have any difficulties?
THOMAS: No. No.
UNIDENTIFIED: No. So it’s the same.
THOMAS: So did you have a permit?
UNIDENTIFIED: No, no.
THOMAS: So you’d didn’t get–.
UNIDENTIFIED: We just send it like this.
THOMAS: Without a license.
UNIDENTIFIED: Without license.
THOMAS: Okay. Okay.
UNIDENTIFIED: I want to see somebody’s [incompr.]
THOMAS: Wow. That’s very good. Yes. I imagine you only need to use this thing a couple of times.
THOMAS: And people get the idea.
THOMAS: So this is–you use it once, maybe twice. They know you’ve got it.
UNIDENTIFIED: Yes. For warning. It’s more warning than to hurt them.
THOMAS: Could it kill them if they got in the–?
UNIDENTIFIED: This is for not kill.
THOMAS: Yeah? But if they were at ten yards–.
UNIDENTIFIED: It depends where you get the stone.
THOMAS: If you got in the way of it, if I was–if I got in front of this thing and was here, and that hit me–.
UNIDENTIFIED: Ah, if you stay here, I kill you.
THOMAS: So if I’m–how far is it to–.
UNIDENTIFIED: Twelve meter. After 12 meter, if it’s not coming here like Goliath, it’s not kill.
THOMAS: Could I say to you, we have in order? Because you’ve said you don’t–we didn’t get a license for this. Does that mean that we could export and use the term agricultural equipment to wherever we were exporting to?
UNIDENTIFIED: I think it’s, yes, the same way we did with this.
HEVER: Britain has some laws restricting who it can sell its weapons to. Officially, Britain is not allowed to break arms embargoes or to sell weapons to be used to repress civilians.
The U.K. strategic export controls published a report about Israel on June 10. The seemingly technical document caused a stir when it mentioned a request by Israeli firms to purchase arms and components for arms for use by the Israeli army and for reselling. According to the report, during 2012 the U.K. has denied between 2 percent and 12 percent of Israeli requests for export licenses, partially because of the concern that these weapons would be used for internal repression against the Palestinian population, which falls under Israel’s obligation to protect under international law.
Another very interesting revelation from the U.K. report is that Israel has made requests for export licenses in order to resell or to assemble components for export to countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, even countries which the Israeli government refers to as hostile, most notably, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco.
After the story was exposed in the media, the Israeli Ministry of Defense promptly issued a denial that it sold weapons to Pakistan. It remained curiously silent regarding the other countries which reportedly by weapons from Israel. The reason for the quick denial is that Israel is the main arms supplier to India. In fact, India has become one of the biggest arms importers in the world, and Israeli companies find India a key market for their products. The possibility that Israel is selling arms to Pakistan could infuriate Indian senior military and defense officials who make the decisions which companies to buy from. If they choose not to buy from Israeli companies, it could be a major blow to one of Israel’s most lucrative industries.
The rapidly increasing arms trade between Israel and India has been presented in Israel is a strategic alliance between against Islamic groups. But it had also created massive profits for both state-owned and privately owned Israeli military companies. A scandal erupted in 2009 when the Indian daily DNA exposed a system of bribes by Israeli companies to senior Indian officials who bought the Barak Mark 8 missiles with public funds, even though the official opinion of military professionals was that India has no need for these missiles. Despite the scandal, Israel continues to increase its arms sales to India and presents its wares in weapon tradeshows held in India.
This is Shir Hever for The Real News.
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