A group of 54 Israelis petitioned the High Court of Justice yesterday to force the disclosure of the names of Israeli companies involved in selling arms to South Sudan and to issue a precautionary order obliging State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate Israelis suspected of selling weapons to South Sudan, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and violating international laws.
According to Haaretz, the petition also calls on the Israeli authorities to work transparently and to tighten control over the export of Israeli weapons, especially to areas and countries experiencing civil wars and armed conflict, and to reveal relations between Israel and regimes and countries in conflict areas.
Israeli lawyer Itay Mack filed the petition on behalf of the activists. Mack filed five requests to the Israeli attorney general to examine the case in 2016, but did not receive any formal response.
The petitioners argued that Israeli weapons were fuelling these conflicts and prolonging wars, which meant that there are suspicions of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The petitioners cited international reports that hinted at the role of Israeli arms companies in the war in South Sudan, where weapons manufactured in Israel were found with the warring groups in the region. The petition quotes UN reports of arms deals and military equipment from the Israeli arms industry that were diverted to rival militias in South Sudan at the start of the civil war end of 2013.
Israel signed the International Arms Control Convention at the end of 2014, but it has not ratified the charter, meaning it is not a member.
A panel of experts has prepared a report to the UN Security Council confirming that Israel has supplied the South Sudanese army with automatic weapons, including an upgraded version of the Israeli Jalil machine gun.
The report said that Israel supplied the security forces in South Sudan, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) with weapons.