Israeli Report to UN on Arms Sales Conceals Much More Than It Reveals

Voluntary filing cites sales of 12 mortar-firing systems in 2011 - when arms sales totaled $5.5 billion

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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An Israeli weapons exhibition.
An Israeli weapons exhibition.Credit: Moti Kimche
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel recently updated its report to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, submitting information on three arms export deals that took place in 2011. However, based on the defense establishment’s export data, it’s clear that dozens more weapons transactions actually took place.

The new report to the organization states that in 2011 Israel exported 12 systems for firing 81mm mortars to Kenya; 24 120mm mortar systems to the United States, and four Kardom artillery systems to Spain that were installed on four-wheel drive military vehicles.

This past January, following a court order to reveal arms sales information in response to a petition by an Israeli lawyer, the state had said it was “reevaluating the possibility of disclosing the names of states or destinations for defense exports.” In its response to the court order, it named the United States, Kenya and Spain as states to which it had sold arms, but did not detail the types of arms that had been sold. In 2011 Israel’s defense exports totaled $5.53 billion.

An analysis of the data provided by the Defense Ministry shows that in 2011 most of the arms exports were to Asia and the Pacific (more than $2.5 billion) and to the United States and Canada ($1.4 billion).

Two months ago Haaretz contacted the Defense Ministry under the Freedom of Information Act to get Israel’s full report to the Register. Only afterward was the new data for 2011 uploaded to the UN site, while data for 2012 does not yet appear. The Defense Ministry said that it had submitted the 2012 report to the Foreign Ministry, and the matter “is at the end of the coordinating process before transferring the information to the UN.”

Reports to the Register are voluntary and relate to only certain types of weapons.

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