Israeli weapons are fueling atrocities in South Sudan, according to a United Nations report that sheds new light on the secretive Israeli arms trade in Africa.
Authored by an investigative team assembled by the UN Security Council, the report cites photographic evidence of automatic rifles made by Israel Military Industries (IMI) being in the arsenal of South Sudan’s army and police. Known as Galil ACE, the guns have particularly been used by bodyguards of high-ranking politicians and by senior army officers.
The Israeli-armed South Sudanese military and government-aligned militias are employing a “scorched earth policy” characterized by the systematic rape of women and children, indiscriminate killings and the burning down of entire villages with families inside their homes, according to the UN report.
South Sudan is not the only African country in which the Israeli arms industry is profiting from bloodshed.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel does not disclose detailed information about its arms deals, most of which are brokered by shady intermediaries, typically retired Israeli military personnel or civilian expatriates.
However, occasional news reports, public statements from officials and investigations by nongovernmental organizations have drawn back the curtain in recent years, revealing military involvement in more corners of Africa than can be detailed in a single article.
Using those sources, SIPRI was able to document the sale of major Israeli weapons to Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Seychelles, South Africa and Uganda from 2006 to 2010.
Despite its small size, for decades Israel has ranked among the world’s top 10 arms exporters, an impressive feat for a nation no geographically bigger than New Jersey.
This is partly due to Israel’s use of the occupied West Bank and Gaza as laboratories to test and refine weapons and methods of domination and control. This dynamic allows Israeli military firms to market their products as “battle-tested” and “combat proven” — coveted labels that give the nation a competitive edge in the international arms trade.
Israel’s success is also attributable to its willingness to do business with repressive regimes that even the United States and European countries avoid arming directly.
In the case of South Sudan, the magnitude of atrocities compelled the European Union to impose an arms embargo and issue sanctions against the country’s military leaders.
The US has similarly suspended military aid and issued sanctions, though it should be noted that the Obama administration enthusiastically aided the build-up of the South Sudanese army, despite knowing that it had several thousand child soldiers within its ranks.
Israel, meanwhile, hosted South Sudan at a weapons expo as recently as June.
In his 1987 book The Israeli Connection, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi characterized Israel’s support for tyrants in developing countries as “a direct outgrowth of what it has done at home.”
“What Israel is doing in the Third World,” asserted Beit-Hallahmi, “is simply to export the Middle East experience of Zionism,” characterized by conquest and pacification.
Israel is exporting “not just a technology of domination, but a worldview that undergirds that technology,” he added.
It is exporting “the logic of the oppressor … a certain frame of mind, a feeling that the Third World can be controlled and dominated, that radical movements in the Third World can be stopped, that modern Crusaders still have a future.”
This is precisely what Israel is doing in Africa today, with predictably deadly consequences.
by Rania Khalek