The arming of neo-Nazi groups by Israel has come under the spotlight once again. This time it’s weapons that are ending up in the hands of a right-wing Ukrainian militia that openly espouses neo-Nazi ideology.
Concerns were raised by a group of more than 40 human rights activists who filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice demanding the cessation of the arms deal. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the petitioners have argued that these weapons serve forces that openly espouse a neo-Nazi ideology and cite evidence that the right-wing Azov militia, whose members are part of Ukraine’s armed forces, and are supported by the country’s ministry of internal affairs, is using these weapons.
While details of the export licenses for armaments are not disclosed to the public, the appearance of Israeli weapons in the hands of avowed neo-Nazis, the activists say, should be a consideration used in opposing the granting of such a license.
The Haaretz pointed out that this was not the first time in which the defence establishment has armed forces that embrace a national socialist ideology, citing its arming of anti-Semitic neo-Nazi groups on a number of occasions.
Previously Israel had armed anti-Semitic regimes, such as the generals’ regime in Argentina, which murdered thousands of Jews in camps while its soldiers stood in watchtowers guarding the abducted prisoners with their Uzi submachine guns, the Haaretz said. Israel has also armed Nazis, such as the war criminal Klaus Barbie in Bolivia.
In addition to arming neo-Nazi groups, Israel is reported to have sold arms to regimes accused of committing genocide. Last year a similar petition addressed to the Israeli High Court called for the suspension of arms trade with Myanmar. Eitay Mack, the petitioners’ lawyer noted that the EU and the USA had imposed an embargo on Myanmar and said that Israel was the only Western state supplying weapons to the military junta. The treatment of Rohingya Muslims was denounced by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
A similar petition to the High Court of Justice called for the cessation of arms sale to South Sudan where Israeli weapons were being used in a conflict where nearly 300,000 lives were said to have been lost and two million people displaced.
Israeli arms also ended up in the hands of groups that carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Over a million were killed in the genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi.
It’s not clear if the petition will be successful. On previous occasions campaigners hit a brick wall after the Israeli government issued a gag order against the country’s High Court.