We now know that Israel sold weapons to Rwanda in the 1990s as genocide was being committed throughout the country. The details of these dealings are still being kept secret and an appeal (Hebrew) to make them public is currently being examined in the High Court of Justice. No lessons, it seems, were learned from that affair.
For the last 18 months a bloody civil war has been raging in another African country, South Sudan, including documented war crimes and potential crimes against humanity. The international media is covering this war on a daily basis. The Israeli media, on the other hand, reported about it during the first few months but has since become silent, even though atrocities are still being perpetrated. This silence probably has a good reason: high-ranking officials in the government and the security industry are selling weapons, military training, homeland security and surveillance technology to factions in South Sudan. Any publication on these activities can seriously embarrass them.
Since the 1960’s Israel has been fighting a secret war in South Sudan by supporting the rebels’ struggle to break free from Khartoum’s tyranny. Israel’s support does not reflect its humanistic values or solidarity with a just and legitimate fight for freedom, but rather is the result of various strategic interests in the region. In 2011 a referendum was held in South Sudan following massive pressure from the international community. Ninety-nine percent of residents voted in favor of breaking away from Khartoum, and on July 9th of the same year South Sudan became an independent country.
The State of Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the new state, and in 2011 Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, came to Israel on official visit. For Israel, an independent South Sudan was a golden opportunity to further its security and economic interests in the area, and it subsequently made hefty investments in civil and military infrastructure there. The relationship between the two countries is exceptional even when compared to Israel’s close ties with other African countries, showing some signs of sponsorship.
This special relationship should also be understood in the context of regional power struggles. The local conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is sponsored by Iran and Israel respectively. As Iran reinforced its ties with Muslim Sudan, Israel strengthened its relations with Christian South Sudan, which also provides it with oil. Two-and-a-half years ago Israel allegedly bombed an Iranian owned arms factory in Khartoum; a year ago the IDF intercepted a ship carrying munitions from Sudan to Gaza; and just this month an Israeli drone was reportedly shot down in Sudan. It is evident that Iran and Israel are fighting a proxy war through their African allies.
- Read more: The Untold Story of Israeli Military Exports to South Sudan - Adv. Itai Mack and Idan Landau (translation: Einat Adar), 972Mag
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