The untold story of Israeli military exports to South Sudan and crimes against humanity

By: Adv. Itai Mack and Idan Landau (translation: Einat Adar), JUN/27/2015, SSN;

Since South Sudan’s independence, Israel has continuously sold it weapons, military training, homeland security and surveillance technology. The only problem? They are being used to commit war crimes and potential crimes against humanity.

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.

The only question is whether this semi-imperial strategy can, in any way, justify supporting South Sudan forces who perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity. No Israeli strategic interest, real or imaginary, can exempt it from the moral and legal responsibility to prevent the sale of any weapons that may be used for such purposes.

South Sudan’s celebration of independence sadly turned into one of the worst tragedies of our times. Since mid-December 2013 a civil war has been raging in South Sudan between opposing ethnic and political groups — a continuation of the bloody civil war that led to the country’s independence after 22 years.

According to the latest reports, 50,000 people were killed, 2 million people were displaced or became refugees, and 2.5 million people are at risk of starvation due to the war. Human rights organizations and the United Nations estimate that 12,000 child soldiers are fighting in South Sudan.

All parties involved in the fighting, and especially the government and its allied militias, are implicated in war crimes, crimes against humanity and severe violations of human rights.

Neither side is able to bring the war to an end, and no ethnic group has a clear majority in the country. The Dinka tribe, which is currently in control of the government, is only 35 percent of the population. Some of the opposition fighters are former security forces personnel who defected to the other side, taking their weapons and military training with them, thus making it harder for government forces to defeat them.

For these reasons, the government decided on an alternative strategy: mass murder, systematic rape of other ethnic groups, and abuse of citizens identified with the opposition. As long as weapons continue to stream into the country, the government has no interest in reaching a compromise, and it continues to cling to a false hope of defeating their enemies in the field.

This situation led European countries to declare a weapons embargo on South Sudan and the U.S. to suspend its military aid. There were also attempts to pass a similar embargo resolution in the UN Security Council.

So far these attempts have been unsuccessful due conflicts and arguments between the members of the council, as well as the fear that the rebels will defeat the government forces.

Despite the political difficulties involved in agreeing on an embargo resolution, the gravity of the situation in South Sudan is clear to all. On March 3 of this year the Security Council adopted U.S.-sponsored Resolution 2206, giving both sides an ultimatum threatening a weapons embargo and other sanctions if the fighting is not ended.

Despite the world’s reaction, Israel’s secret war in South Sudan continues according to reports and information provided by human rights activists who have been, or still are, in South Sudan.

Since the country’s independence, Israel has continuously sent it weapons, training government forces and providing various security-related technologies. There is also a cooperation between the two countries’ secret services, and Israeli entities have established an internal control and surveillance system in South Sudan, which they continue to maintain.

The current Israeli involvement in South Sudan is exceptional in the history of Israeli military exports. This goes way beyond greed. Israel is currently fighting over the viability of a project that it has invested much in over the years — a project whose failure may damage its credibility in the eyes of other dictators and regimes that receive military aid from Israel.

An official publication by the Ministry of Defense from November 2014 (almost a year after the beginning of the civil war in South Sudan) boasts (Hebrew) about the success of the defense export department at Cyber Security exhibition, visited by 70 delegations from around the world, including South Sudan. There are testimonies that the South Sudan military is using the Israeli Galil ACE rifle.

Eighteen months before the outbreak of the civil war, a Sudanese newspaper reported on an airlift from Israel to South Sudan, providing rockets, military equipment and even African mercenaries (after training). The provisions still continue to flow. A South Sudanese delegation will visit (Hebrew) an Israeli armament exhibition to be held next week in Tel Aviv.

Think about it for a minute: a country in which crimes against humanity are perpetrated at this very moment, using foreign weapons and under a complete weapons embargo by U.S. and Europe, sends a military acquisitions delegation to Israel and is being welcomed with open arms.

Both international law and basic human morality forbid the sale of weapons or other military aid which may serve in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the past, due to the political conflicts of the Cold War, the international community failed to fulfill this obligation, but since the 1990s it has been transformed into decisive law in U.S. and Europe, as well as among international conventions and international institutions such as the UN and international courts.

Israel has no real way of ensuring the weapons it sells to South Sudan are not used to massacre civilians or threaten women as they are being raped by soldiers and militia fighters.

Furthermore, there is no way to ensure that the training of security forces is not used for the murder and torture of civilians and that the technology it provides is not used for persecuting citizens for their political or ethnic affiliations — not to mention supporting horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity — unless it completely stops all military and security-related exports to this country.

It is important to clarify that international law also forbids the sale of technologies and devices that “don’t shoot” if they may be used in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On March 12 this year, Adv. Itai Mack gave an interview about military exports to South Sudan on the radio program “According to Foreign Media” (Hebrew), which is aired on the “All For Peace” radio station (beginning 47:50). Mack revealed more details about Israel’s involvement in providing weapons and training to South Sudan forces. Following these findings, Adv. Mack appealed to the Ministry of Defense to stop military exports to the country. The appeal, unsurprisingly, was rejected.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) is currently trying to break the seal of silence, by demanding that the Ministry of Defense cease all military exports to South Sudan immediately. The demand was accompanied by an expert opinion prepared by Adv. Mack, which details the factual and legal aspects of the issue (you can find the request and opinion in Hebrew here).

The Israeli public must join this request. And the time to do it is right now.

Idan Landau is an Israeli academic at Ben-Gurion University. This post was originally published in Hebrew on Idan’s blog, Don’t Die a Fool. It is reposted here with the author’s permission.

18 Comments

  1. Joana Adams says:

    The Israelis, will never sell arms o South Sudan if Kiir did not lie to them that Khartoum was threatening the South. Money and lots of it have been changing hands in Addis Ababa and Southernrs have remained quiet about it.
    The point is if South Sudan government is going all over the world bribing, and politically prostituting just to remain in power this is the real problem.
    We can castigate all of the world leaders supporting or perceived to be supporting the evil and wicked regime in Juba, but if we do not want to touch Mayardit and believe he is a victim, even a hero, then we must bear the consequences of Kiir’s actions. It is Israel today, and tomorrow, it is Iran or Russia, as long as we continue to miss the target. There is a space to blame others, but we must start with putting Kiir on the spot light, after all he is the presidentof the republic and commander in chief of the National army and the creator of the notorious unconstitutional gelweng, kony beny, or tiger nonsensence militia that has committed genocide and continues o terrorise our people, murder, rape, and mass. murder them on dialy basis.

    Joana

    • joe says:

      You don’t lie to isreal. They can lie to u. They know what they are doing. By the way they sell Intel equipment. They are more informed thaN riak and kiir in politics of this nation.

  2. Kondokoro says:

    you are a traitor
    what are you trying to mint here?
    it dont work if you think by spiiling our national security secrets you will benefit from it
    you are a looser

  3. Eli says:

    Mr Landau and Adv. Mack;
    Thank you for reporting about this gross human rights violation in South Sudan by the South Sudanese government being supported by Israel. Historically, since 1955 at tne beginning of the first civil war by then between the nortn and south Sudan, Israel has stood with the people of South Sudan and we sincerely thank Israel for that, at that time yes we needed Israel’s military and logistical supports as we were fighting for our independence. However after the independence Israel wanted to solidify its base in South Sudan so as to have closer watch over Islamic north as well to monitor Iran’s activities in the neighborhoods. That wasn’t a problem for us either, because “the enemy of one’s enemy is a friend”, by Mandela. The problem now is that Southerners are killing one another, and it is easy to conclude that why are same people killing each other? The answer to this question is a lot more complicated than it looks. What Israel need to do is to restrict its supply and to make sure its arms and military logistics are only used to deter the North, but off course that is impractical to monitor, as the Juba government will use anything at their dispense to crush the 18 months old rebellion, they have already used cluster bombs through Ugandan people defense force, what else could prevent them? So the only way for Israel to not be called a partner in ( genocides) crime and crimes against humanity is to at once stop all military support to the murderous regime of dictator Salva Kirr, the current president whose term is about to expire on July 9, 2015.
    Israelis out of all people should be the ones to stand against genocide, the Holocaust memories are still fresh in this generation’s minds. Peace loving people all around the world stood up and condemned the brutality of the Nazis during the Holocaust against Jews, and so must the Israelis stand against genocides in South Sudan.
    Eli Wani

  4. Choromke Jas says:

    The State of Israel is held in great respect and awe by many South Sudanese. Some do so because of their reading of the Bible, others because of the perceived role Israel played in the first war known as Anya Nya; first led by Fr Saturnino Ohure and later by Joseph Lagu. Both Ohure and Lagu are from the Equatoria Region of South Sudan. Ironically, the only anti-Israeli action by a South Sudanese was a vote in support of the Palestinian State at the UN General assembly some time ago. This action was taken by Francis Deng, the South Sudan rep at the UN, a Dinka. Deng received his instruction from Kiir, the leader of South Sudan to vote in the manner he did. If the opinion in the article is true, then the Israeli government is supplying arms to a tribal government which hostile to it.

    The recent involvement of official Israeli in South Sudan started in 2005, according to information I have gathered. Two Israelis travelled to the South Sudan at that time to warn Dr Riek machar, the present leader of the armed opposition, of his impending assassination. Clearly, the two emissaries were from the secret service. Two weeks after their visit, Dr John Garang, the former leader of the SPLA died in a helicopter crash. A week later, the duo returned to South Sudan from Isreal to say, cryptically, that “one door has shut, the other one opens” about the death of Dr Garang. To cut a long story short, it was through Dr Machar that the Israelis were introduced to the SPLA and the rest, as they say, is history. One then would expect the Israelis to sympathize with their former host, Dr Machar, against a recalcitrant Dinka chauvinist who voted against Israel at the UN.

  5. False Millionaire says:

    Welcome to the world of reality.
    There isn’t any hold barred on earth where there is money.Italian mafias burn churches and threaten to lay waste the pop and the faithful if they ever appear as abstacles to prosperity of criminal businesses.
    Respectful mothers sell their daughters’ verginities to wealthy tourists in Mombassa.
    Also in Mombassa,20 dollars is more than enough for a hit man to shoot dead for you your sweet hearts’ lover.
    As of today,you can sell your kidney for less than 1000 dollars to a needy patient since supply is far greater than demand.

    The truth is,in RSS money has more value than human lives for the SPLM/A elites and as for low moral masses.
    That’s exactly the origin of the power struggle that led to the events of 15 December 2013 and the following civil war.
    The protagonists are willing to go any length to obtain arms and military advantages.
    Human lives must be sacrificed for any possibility of victory that will assure to the victors the control of economic resources that will guarantee the flow of money at the end.
    It’s only naive to criticise Israel for doing businss in arms.
    Come buy sugar from me and I wouldn’t give a damn if you have intention to produce soft drinks or alcohol to destroy the health of drunkards.
    Better find another subject for your moral lessons sir.The guilty are those who use the arms to kill innocent people in RSS!!!

    • alex says:

      Haaaaah a cry of a dying horse in the bush. If you are bring tanks and artillary from Khartoum why do you cry when the goverment also go and look for guns. The only language you people understand is war. How many attempts have been made to advise your group to look at the suffering of our people but instead you were instructed by Khartoum to burn down hospitals , loot universities, burning villages after villages, raping, killing the innocent people and wage media campagain of lairing. You are treators so if Isreal want to help let them help after all the guns going to Plastinian goes through Sudan. Bashir want to finish with S. Sudan and the next target is Isreal. Who can trust Arabs as well as Riack who is now one of the best friend of Omer el Bashir. Your total defeat in upper nile and Unity states have made some of you mad and depressed that you want to blame any innocent people or country. Now you blamed allmost evey country that it is supporting Kiir or Kiir briebed them and you fail to analysis your primitive backword politics of hate and tribalisum as beeing the course of your total defead. You lair openly without fear and you did not think whatever you write people in the world will be able to read. You want to smear anyone who is a peace loving person to have been briebed. You started with the govoner in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and the list goes on and on. Lastime you even lied Rwandan troops and Egyptians were involved in fighting your ill trained rebels and that has become defining character of splm in opp. Great lairs in the world and media soliders. I hope tomorrow it will not be Norway UK and USA being accused that they are now briebed again by Kiir. You led yor movement down by lairs and your honey moon with Khartoum. Until you acknowledge that you are Africans you will continue to suffer huge sadbacks, Until you stop lairing no any other country will trust you people, until you recognise the uinity of our people and teritorrial integrity no S. Sudanese will support your group. Until you learn that democracy does not work in the way you think no S. Sudanese will believe you and until you accepted for our leaders to be determined by votting nobody will support coup grabbers. You are now even conspering between yourselves Lodu Gore Vs Richard Mula and Oyet. Including the names of people who did not support your movement to have been involved in sighning the letter for the removal of Ladu Gore. Soon aspect another breaking news. It is going to happen and the day it will happen then you will start to look deep it to your media propoganda. Something is browing in the pot and soon it will rupture and the world will see your rotten politics

      Alex

  6. AGUMUT says:

    South Sudan is a Sovereign,it doesn’t matter if Kiir in power or not. The Army need sophisticates weapons from Israeli or USA. The US has allowed South Sudan to buy Weapons directly from them. So US can stop selling weapons to South Sudan and they can allow government in Juba to buy from Israel.

  7. Tyson says:

    Selling arms to South Sudan is meant for the government to defend the country against foreign aggression including the jallaba threats. Israel did not license Kiir to massacre its own people!
    This is just a one-sided argument holding limited justification. Kiir and his cohorts MUST be persecuted for their crimes.
    Isreal’s role within the sub-region can contribute to deter the ugly plans of the jallaba under the Iranian backing.

  8. Nikalongo says:

    Typical of us losers. Another time it is IGAD and the Troika supporting this or that other murderer. There will never be peace as long as it is always some foreigner to blame for our own stupidities. If you want to help bring peace, talk sense in the heads of the Dinka and Nuer politicians, elders and the youths who perpetrators of genocide against their own people. Thousands of Israelis are employed in the arms industries. How do you expect them to maintain the work force if they stop selling.

    Eli wani, who is heading a briefcase rebel group along the Madi-Acholi corridor can also place an order for his Israeli made Uzi machine-gun. I understand it is an effective killing machine.

    • Eastern says:

      The Uzi has long been superseded by the more lethal black ACE Galil rifles you see with the national security folks in Juba. Isreal has supplied thousands of these rifles to the Juba establishment already!

      • Eli says:

        Nikalongo and Eastern
        Could you please tell me how to acquire these guns? To be used for self defense and detering of criminals and squatters.
        Thanks

    • alex says:

      Thanks sister

      These are people who have run out of ideas. They are only thinking of war and will never talk something sensble about peace. They are only interested in seeing the war continuing with their rebels in the suitcases. Eli one time told me he is on business and I now know that is bussiness of soliciting money from the world that he is a rebel supplier or buyer of guns. That blood money one day will fill his house with a course.

    • GatCharwearbol says:

      Nikalongo,

      This is one remarkable comment you have injected so far. Guns don’t kill people, stupid people with guns kill people. That’s the bitter truth known to practical and rational beings. We invented this predicament and there is no reason to cry fault on foreigners; we asked them to give us guns to kill our people and there is no fault on their side here. It is our problem and it must be pronounced as such. Without owning up to the responsibility and come up with the solution ourselves, it is cash cow business to the guns businesses and why would they cut off their customers? We have nobody to blame but ourselves. Let us cease whining about who sell guns to South Sudanese; let us stop our own from buying guns and that is the simple fix.

  9. joe says:

    Thanks for insight into conflict in s.s. it’s no supprise that isreal like any other western nation will stop at nothing than their geopolitical games. do they really care about the suffering of our people? If kiir and riak don’t give a shit about their citizen, isreal that define it’s position in the middles through unconceivable means really cares?

  10. peter says:

    thanks for ur contributed to this history. I hope whether we are talking there is no solution yet about this war. one thing we need to cure it s just to prevent selling guns to s.s it s only thing that worldwide would make sure. but some people don’t care because they believe in their mine govt of s.s has license of whole Country and they go any where they want to obtain something. bear in mine that Country belong to anyone whether u are rebels still she and he belongs to there and no one would be denied at all. world needs to save their lives all. And this Civil war was started from Juba capitol city of S.S among politicians and later was turned to massacre only one ethnic group by Government itself which is critical to be supported giving guns by development other Country like Israel or others.

  11. Buoyar Apuk says:

    Israel has a moral duty to defend its borders and allies from the enemy of Israel, and south Sudan is an ally and is being threatened by Arab Sudan to the north with its proxy notorious SPLM I O which is fighting the young nation without knowing and they are being manipulated out of ignorance, Arab Sudan has already laid its war strategies against the South since day one of independence until today and our cousins from Upper Nile are in deep sleep and they don’t know that they are executing a blind war against themselves and their country, please let Israel supply weapons as much as it likes to defend its external threat and South Sudan to defend its territory and sovereignty.

  12. simba says:

    the article is a futile attempt of the global antisemitic movement to blame israel for everything. Just like any western country, israel provided assistance to south sudan. The fact that south sudanese politicians misused that assistance should be squarely blamed on south sudanese politicians…not the west or israel. BUT singling out israel in this case just shows how desperate antisemites are to get support just from anyone even if it meant through fabrications.

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