Thursday, 26 October 2017 14:12

Israel accused of selling military equipment to Burma during 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya Muslims

israel-patrol-boatBurmese military show off two Israeli-made gunboats.Israel has been accused of continuing to sell military equipment to the Burmese military even as it faced accusations of war crimes against minority Rohingya Muslims.

Pictures on the Burmese Navy's Facebook page "welcome" two Israeli-made gunboats to the military fleet."Welcome to the Myanmar Navy," the caption says. "The Super-Dvora MK III is moving forward at 45 knots on Myanmar waters."The gunboats feature a remote weapons station which would allow the military to mount of heavy machine gun or 30mm cannon.The Israeli Foreign Ministry has denied media reports it has sold advanced weapons to Burma and categorically rejected any "alleged involvement in the tragedy in the Rakhine region."

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Burma to Bangladesh since a military crackdown launched in late August. The United Nations denounced it as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.According to Haaretz, the Ramta division of Israeli Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the Super Dvora, is meant to provide at least two more boats to the Burmese military.The remote weapons station on the boat is made by Elbit Systems, the paper said, adding that the two remaining vessels could be built in Burma with Israeli assistance.The total value of the arms deal is estimated to be tens of millions of dollars, Haaretz said, citing sources in the Israeli weapons industry.The patrol boats could be used to attack Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, Eitay Mack, an Israeli lawyer who petitioned the Israeli High court to block arms sales to Burma told the Middle East Eye."These images have confirmed what activists have been saying for a number of years," he said. "While Israel has a gag order against details on its arms deals with the Junta, Myanmar proudly showcases its purchases as it defies existing EU and US arms embargoes on the country.

"This shows how a gag order means nothing in 2017 as the Myanmar government and Junta love to publish everything they have bought from the Israelis on Facebook, which is giving us more evidence and helping fuel a public campaign against Israeli arms sales to Burma.''

Last month, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in response to Mr Mack's petition, but the ruling has been kept classified at the state's request.Investigations by several human rights watchdogs found more than 100 tanks, as well as boats and light weapons, have been sold to the Burmese government by Israeli arms companies in recent years.One Israeli company, TAR Ideal Concept, posted a picture on its website in August last year of its staff teaching combat tactics to Burmese special forces in northern Rakhine state, where much of the violence is taking place.