Tel Aviv Arms Trade Show Braces for Protest Against South Sudan Delegation

Human rights activists want Israel to halt weapons exports to the African state, amid allegations of war crimes.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Soldiers in South Sudan.
Soldiers in South Sudan.Credit: Reuters
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Security is being beefed up at an international defense industry trade show in Tel Aviv this week, in the wake of reports that human rights activists plan to protest the presence of the delegation from South Sudan.

The demonstrators plan to call for a general ban of arms exports to countries in the grip of civil war and are seeking a halt to Israeli military exports to South Sudan, amid allegations of war crimes committed there.

Defense expo sources say the protesters plan on forcing their way into the International Defense and Homeland Security Expo on Tuesday, the first day of the three-day fair. The event's organizers have increased security for the South Sudan delegation, which is headed by the country's transport minister.

The human rights activists claim Israel ships military hardware and ammunition to war-torn South Sudan without any accounting for how the arms are used.

Organizers add that among those slated to attend the fair are dozens of other official defense delegations, including representatives from Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Montenegro, the Philippines, Brazil and India.

Last week Meretz Knesset member Tamar Zandberg contacted Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asking that Israeli military exports to South Sudan be halted.

In her letter to Ya’alon, she referred to reports of a flow of Israeli weaponry to the country since it gained independence in 2011, including weapons getting in through neighboring countries such as Uganda.

Zandberg also cited reports that Israel has trained South Sudanese soldiers both in South Sudan itself and in Israel. There is reasonable suspicion, Zandberg claimed, that Israeli weapons are being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, and as a result, she said, Defense Ministry export licenses for South Sudan should be revoked.

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