Ya’alon Refuses to Discuss Arms Sale to South Sudan

More than 142,000 civilians are sheltering in UN bases across South Sudan and have been attacked previously by warring forces

Israel’s defense ministry has refused to comment on whether or not it is continuing to sell weapons to South Sudan, which is in the middle of a civil war, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon received a letter last month from MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) requesting that Israel stop exporting arms to the East African country and that licenses given by the Defense Ministry to the department that monitors defense exports being cancelled or suspended.

“There must be public transparency in the matter of defense exports, especially during a civil war, to allow the public to receive all the information needed to hold the necessary dialogue on the issue,” stated the letter by Zandberg to Ya’alon.

The defense ministry’s chief of staff, Haim Blumenblatt responded three weeks later, but there was no mention about defense exports to South Sudan.

“The defense export policy to all countries is scrutinized periodically by the Defense Ministry, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and other bodies, in accordance with the military and political interests of the State of Israel, and including considerations of human and civil rights in the export destination countries.”

According to Haaretz, the civil war in South Sudan was not explicitly mentioned in Blumenblatt’s response, which added that “of course, the existence of a civil war in the export destination country also impacts the defense export policy to that country. From the abovementioned policy, decisions are made by the authority certified to grant or withhold, suspend or annul licenses.”

Israel does not reveal the countries to which it exports arms arguing that by doing so it would lead to those countries cutting ties, which may not have any official ties to the Jewish state.

In early June, security was reinforced at an international defense industry trade show in Tel Aviv after activists threatened to force their way into the expo to stage protest against the South Sudanese delegation.

The activists accuse the Israeli military of indiscriminately shipping arms to the war-torn African country without verifying their destination and exact purpose.

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize South Sudan, a day after it achieved independence, though Israel cooperated with the South Sudan regional government for decades, including agricultural and social development aid.

South Sudan’s first ever ambassador to Israel, Ruben Marial Benjamin presented his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin last year where he mentioned that in 1969’s, towards the end of the first Sudan Civil War, some of South Sudan’s army officers, who are today senior officials in the country, trained in Israel.

“Your self-determination reminds us of our own self-determination,” Rivlin said to Benjamin, “both of our countries are eager to be at peace with our neighbors. Unfortunately our neighbors don’t realize that cooperation instead of hatred is in their mutual interest.”

Israel currently hosts thousands – about 14,000, according to UN numbers – of asylum seekers who fled the fighting in South Sudan.

South Sudan has been torn by fighting since December 2013 between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar, and the violence has imploded along ethnic lines.

The world’s newest nation is in the throes of a dire humanitarian crisis, with more than 2.5 million people facing severe food shortages and two million driven from their homes.

A recent report by the UN mission in South Sudan described horrific violence in the latest fighting in Unity state, where witnesses said the army gang-raped girls and torched them alive in huts.

At least seven ceasefires have been signed and broken during successive rounds of talks.

Ya’alon Refuses to Discuss Arms Sale to South Sudan

By:  i24 News

Israel’s defense ministry has refused to comment on whether or not it is continuing to sell weapons to South Sudan, which is in the middle of a civil war, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon received a letter last month from MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) requesting that Israel stop exporting arms to the East African country and that licenses given by the Defense Ministry to the department that monitors defense exports being cancelled or suspended.

“There must be public transparency in the matter of defense exports, especially during a civil war, to allow the public to receive all the information needed to hold the necessary dialogue on the issue,” stated the letter by Zandberg to Ya’alon.

The defense ministry’s chief of staff, Haim Blumenblatt responded three weeks later, but there was no mention about defense exports to South Sudan.

“The defense export policy to all countries is scrutinized periodically by the Defense Ministry, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and other bodies, in accordance with the military and political interests of the State of Israel, and including considerations of human and civil rights in the export destination countries.”

According to Haaretz, the civil war in South Sudan was not explicitly mentioned in Blumenblatt’s response, which added that “of course, the existence of a civil war in the export destination country also impacts the defense export policy to that country. From the abovementioned policy, decisions are made by the authority certified to grant or withhold, suspend or annul licenses.”

Israel does not reveal the countries to which it exports arms arguing that by doing so it would lead to those countries cutting ties, which may not have any official ties to the Jewish state.

In early June, security was reinforced at an international defense industry trade show in Tel Aviv after activists threatened to force their way into the expo to stage protest against the South Sudanese delegation.

The activists accuse the Israeli military of indiscriminately shipping arms to the war-torn African country without verifying their destination and exact purpose.

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize South Sudan, a day after it achieved independence, though Israel cooperated with the South Sudan regional government for decades, including agricultural and social development aid.

South Sudan’s first ever ambassador to Israel, Ruben Marial Benjamin presented his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin last year where he mentioned that in 1969’s, towards the end of the first Sudan Civil War, some of South Sudan’s army officers, who are today senior officials in the country, trained in Israel.

“Your self-determination reminds us of our own self-determination,” Rivlin said to Benjamin, “both of our countries are eager to be at peace with our neighbors. Unfortunately our neighbors don’t realize that cooperation instead of hatred is in their mutual interest.”

Israel currently hosts thousands – about 14,000, according to UN numbers – of asylum seekers who fled the fighting in South Sudan.

South Sudan has been torn by fighting since December 2013 between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar, and the violence has imploded along ethnic lines.

The world’s newest nation is in the throes of a dire humanitarian crisis, with more than 2.5 million people facing severe food shortages and two million driven from their homes.

A recent report by the UN mission in South Sudan described horrific violence in the latest fighting in Unity state, where witnesses said the army gang-raped girls and torched them alive in huts.

At least seven ceasefires have been signed and broken during successive rounds of talks.

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