Israel mum on report it suspended weapons exports to Myanmar

By FRONTIER

Israel has declined to comment on a report it has suspended exports of military equipment to Myanmar in a decision linked to the Rakhine crisis, a leading Israeli newspaper reported on November 1.

The Times of Israel said the office of Defence Minister Mr Avigdor Libermen had declined to comment on the report, carried the same day by Intelligence Online, a France-based publication.

“The Israeli defense minister has discreetly but significantly decided to block military export licenses for Myanmar,” said Intelligence Online.

The newspaper quoted Mr Eitay Mack, an Israeli lawyer who campaigns against arms sales to human rights violators, as expressing scepticism about the Intelligence Online report.

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Mack noted that the report was not verified and said that although Israel had in the past halted some specific deals it had never completely stopped selling weapons to countries accused of human rights violations.

“This would be a first, but I do want to say that I hope it’s true,” he told the Times of Israel.

The Intelligence Online report said Israeli military sales to Myanmar had been a subject of discussion since a number of deals were made public.

It said they included the sale of patrol boats, which was publicised on the Myanmar government’s Facebook page.

Intelligence Online said Israel’s TAR Ideals Concept company had revealed on its website, apparently accidentally, that it had sold Myanmar a device that enables a gun to shoot around corners and had also trained the country’s special forces.

Intelligence Online said a second reason there may have been pressure on Israel to halt arms sales to Myanmar was Israel’s cooperation with China on drone technology, which the US opposes.

In response to protests in Israel over the sales, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement last month that the country was not directly involved in the situation in Rakhine.

“Israel vigorously denies the false reports being spread by the media about Israel’s alleged involvement in the tragedy in the Rakhine state in Myanmar,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, the Times of Israel reported.

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