Israeli Lawmaker Asks High Court to Bar State From Exporting Wiretapping Equipment to South Sudan

Case filed after the UN said Israel was providing the South Sudan government equipment to eavesdrop on its opponents.

Gili Cohen
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Fighters in South Sudan. 2014.
Fighters in South Sudan. Credit: AP
Gili Cohen

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) filed a petition with the High Court of Justice Monday seeking to force the Defense Ministry to rescind export licenses for the sale of wiretapping equipment to the government of South Sudan.

The equipment is purportedly being used to monitor opponents of the East African country's government.

The petition contains a request for a show cause order that would require the defense and foreign ministries to explain why the export license should not be rescinded, at least until the civil war in South Sudan ends.

A UN report, details of which were published in Haaretz in January, found that eavesdropping equipment had been sent to South Sudan after the civil war broke out in the country and that Israeli weapons had been found in the country prior to the outbreak of the war. The UN report said that the ability of the South Sudanese authorities to arrest their opponents had been substantially improved as a result of the purchase of what it called Israeli "communications interception equipment."

Israel made a commitment to the United Nations that it would not supply lethal weapons to the South Sudanese government, but reportedly at the same time decided to allow the export of equipment that was considered defensive in nature.

After the publication of the UN report, Zandberg asked Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to rescind the export license for the wiretapping systems but was purportedly told the Defense Ministry does not provide details on such licenses. For her part, Zandberg has argued that legislation on military exports are designed specifically to avoid a situation in which Israel is supplying weapons used to commit war crimes and against innocent civilians.

The Defense Ministry has not yet commented on the petition.