Local human rights activists have accused Israel of fuelling the brutal violence against Rohingya in Myanmar by its continued sale of weapons to the military junta. More 300,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which the UN human rights chief has labelled as “ethnic cleansing”. Sixty Rohingya villages have been burnt by right wing Buddhists and hundreds killed in the violence, which the Myanmar government and Rohingya blame on each other.
The Israeli Defence Ministry last week confirmed that Israel will continue to export weapons to Myanmar, in defiance of international embargoes on arms exports to the conflict zone. Elbit Systems is included amongst the companies involved. Other Israeli companies, including TAR Ideal Concepts, are reported to be training the Myanmar forces in Rakhine state on Israeli “pacification” strategies to repress Palestinians.
According to reports by The Independent, investigations by several rights watchdogs have found that more than 100 tanks, as well as boats and light weapons, have been sold to the Myanmar government by Israeli arms companies. It is claimed that one company, TAR Ideal Concepts, has also trained Myanmar special forces in northern Rakhine state, where much of the violence is taking place, posting pictures on their website of its staff teaching combat tactics and how to handle weapons.
Since 2008, Israeli military exports have soared, from $3 billion to somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion. Furthermore, the Israeli arms industry benefits from the occupation through having a captive population it can test new weaponry. Israeli weapons are marketed as“battle tested on Palestinians” and even as “turning Palestinian blood into money”, according to the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa (PSC).
The PSC – together with other human rights activists from the US, Brazil, Colombia, England, Holland, Bosnia, India and South Korea — was invited to Palestine and Israel in June 2017 for discussions with Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) committees in Ramallah and Nablus, and also the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace in Tel Aviv.
During these discussions, international activists were asked to focus our attention on the Israeli armaments industry which is now the sixth largest in the world, and which exports arms and security systems to 130 countries.
The PCS Terry Crawford Browne, a well-known anti-arms deal activist, said consequences in Africa of Israeli ‘pacification’ strategies include the deaths over five million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in what is referred to as ‘Africa’s First World War’. The war is so-named because the root cause is the plunder of natural resources such as cobalt, coltan, copper, diamonds, gold and oil required by the ‘first world’s’ war business, and for which Israel is the proxy.
“President Joseph Kabila is kept in power by Israeli security systems associated with diamond billionaire Dan Gertler. In turn, Gertler is linked with both Duduzane and Khulubuse Zuma and the Gupta family, plus Tokyo Sexwale. Over protests by Congolese refugees now living in South Africa, Kabila was hosted by President Jacob Zuma as recently as June this year,” he claimed.
The weapons used by SA Police during the Marikana massacre in 2012 were Israeli Galil semi-automatic rifles made under licence in South Africa by Denel. Police death squads in Brazil, Colombia and US cities now wracked by racial violence are similarly equipped and trained by Israeli security companies. Elbit Systems is contracted to construct 54 surveillance towers on President Donald Trump’s proposed apartheid wall on the Arizona/Mexico border.
He said Elbit Systems is a privately owned company which manufactures the drones that were used to commit war crimes in Gaza in 2014, and which it also produces in England. Elbit’s factory near Birmingham was closed for two days in July, and five British activists involved in those protests are to come before the Cannock Magistrates Court on Wednesday 13 September.
Following those discussions with the BDS committees in June, the PSC last week wrote to the Cannock Magistrates Court asking for the charges to be dismissed. Given Israeli violations of both British and EU embargoes on arms exports to Myanmar, the PSC has also requested a court order requiring the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) to suspend financial transfers to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government meets stipulated conditions set by the BDS movement, namely:
-The immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners,
-The end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem)
and Gaza, and that Israel will dismantle the apartheid wall,
-Recognition of the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinians to full equality in
-Acknowledgement of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Crawford-Browne said Israeli banks are an essential element in laundering the financial proceeds of weapons exports and related plunder of natural resources in Myanmar, the DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe plus other countries into the Israeli economy.
“Falsely smeared by Zionists as anti-Semitic, BDS is a nonviolent initiative modeled after South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement during the 1980s, and of which the banking sanctions campaign proved to be the most effective in our country’s relatively peaceful transition to constitutional democracy,” he added.
Coinciding with the Cannock court case plus demonstrations all over the world expressing revulsion with the Myanmar genocide of its Rohingya Muslim community, a protest march will be held from 11am on Wednesday 13 September from Kaisergracht to Parliament.
“As a secular movement comprising Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of no faith, the PSC urges Capetonians of all communities to participate in this demonstration of South Africa’s commitments to fundamental human rights for the whole of humanity,” he concluded. VOC