Twenty Israelis Suspected of Selling Advanced Missiles to U.S. Rival in Asia

The suspects, who include former Israeli defense officials, 'developed, manufactured and tested' the weapons before clandestinely selling them. Sources say case could have led to crisis between superpowers

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Pictures shared by Israeli law enforcement agencies show equipment for sale by Israelis to an Asian country.
Pictures shared by Israeli law enforcement agencies show equipment for sale by Israelis to an Asian country.Credit: Israel Police

Over 20 Israelis, including former employees of Israeli defense firms, have been investigated for illegally selling weapons to U.S. rival in Asia. 

Most details of the investigation, including which country is involved, are under a gag order. Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the case was highly sensitive, as it could affect Israel's foreign relations and lead to a crisis between superpowers. 

Israelis testing weapons for sale to an unnamed Asian country.

According to a statement by Israel Police on Thursday, an investigation together with the Shin Bet security service found that the suspects "developed, manufactured, tested and sold armed loitering missiles to an Asian country."

The suspects, the Shin Bet said, received instructions from "elements" in the Asian country, in return for significant amounts of money and other benefits. The contacts were maintained clandestinely. Some officials in the Shin Bet said there was concern that knowledge about the missiles could reach enemy nations, as the country to which they were sold has ties with them.

Pictures shared by Israeli law enforcement agencies show equipment for sale by Israelis to a foreign country.Credit: Israel Police

"This affair illustrates the potential damage to national security inherent in deals illegally carried out by Israeli citizens with foreign elements, including the fear that this technology could spill over to countries that are hostile to Israel," the Shin Bet said.

The Israelis are suspected of national security offenses, breaching arms exports laws, money laundering and other financial offenses. 

The investigation into the case began in late 2019, when intelligence reached the Defense Ministry's security department, which forwarded it to the Shin Bet and the police's fraud unit.

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